“… trying to learn from your mistakes can be a very ineffective way to change future behavior for the better.” – Kelly Haws, professor of marketing at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management
EXPLORE | Use Caution When Remembering the Past
Maybe they’re not very bright at Vanderbilt after all. =) Not learn from our mistakes?! Are we not doomed to repeat ourselves without an accurate understanding of history?
Well, Professor Haws isn’t saying that we can’t learn, but that our inability to look back with accuracy keeps us from making the right corrections we might need to make. Her research shows that we are better off looking at the hear and now and where we want to go rather than try to evaluate our past to move forward.
“The most surprising result was that searching through the past can negatively affect behavior, even when past examples are positive. People constantly rewrite the stories they tell themselves about themselves, making recall an unreliable tool for improvement.” – Haws
What’s interesting is that she may actually be making an argument for effective goal setting in a round about way. More on that in just a bit. First, we want to keep in mind her caution about evaluating the past:
What are all the points she makes?
Only remembering parts of the past. We either remember too little or remember too much; That can mean just good things, or just the bad parts…. And isn’t realistic.
Not being able to recall quickly anything good. Trying to remember 10 examples of good financial decisions might be a struggle, and that can lead someone to doubt their abilities. “You start to use that difficulty you’re having as a cue for who you are and what you’re like,” she says.
It might be too easy to fool ourselves into thinking what is either not entirely true or helpful…
EXECUTE | Capture Truth, Keep Moving Forward
Can you take truth forward? Are you able to consider a failure or mistake and separate the truth and leave the rest behind? In other words, what we take with us is beneficial for us going forward.
Effective goal setting. Our effectiveness in goal setting can keep us from dwelling in the past. What you need to do and when can pull you from focusing unnecessarily on what is (or maybe should be) behind us.
We should learn from our mistakes, but be able to free ourselves from the negative impact on our future by recalling the truth of the past. Both the situation and who you are overall.
It is good for us to process, but not ruminate… Finish the process of processing, take the nuggets of truth as you move forward.
Which is to say that looking forward is better than looking back.
If we want to be effective in future decision making, what we’re intending or wanting to be the outcome needs to have priority over the past.
The findings reveal the relationship between recall and self-control…
[Original article: why you should stop trying to learn from your mistakes]