4 Types Of Mistakes

Yesterday I attended a lecture about entrepreneurship and one of the topics that were touched on was the topic of failure.

More specifically, the different types of mistakes one makes in general, regardless of if they're an entrepreneur or not.

These mistakes are categorized into four sections: Sloppy, A-ha moments, High stakes, and Stretch mistakes.

Let's talk about these!

Sloppy Mistakes

Sloppy mistakes, are as they seem, when you get distracted, you get sloppy, and mistakes happen. These are mistakes like typing errors, dropping a carton of milk, etc. Those small time mistakes that could have been avoided by paying better attention.

Therefore, the solution is to focus! Especially if you find yourself doing these mistakes very frequently, perhaps it's time to start putting in more focus and attention in tasks that you perform. Don't let the small size of the mistake allow you to take it easy because, as I will soon discuss, sloppy mistakes can turn into much bigger mistakes.

However, of course, putting a lot of attention into everything is unreasonable, minds tend to wander when doing small tasks like carrying a milk carton. So another solution to this is preemptively fixing the issue. Following on the milk carton example, if you know you are prone to mistakenly dropping it because you forget about it then make sure you place it somewhere safe where it won't be damaged even if you forget about it.

For example, instead of holding it in your hand, put it in a bag - it's much harder for a bag to slip out than a carton of milk. This applies to anything else that is caused by distraction, make it so that even if you do get distracted, the damage is minimal if at all existent.

A-ha Moment Mistakes

A-ha mistakes are those mistakes that actually end up being good, in other words, happy accidents. The example brought up in the lecture was the classic man bumps into a woman and there's paper flying around everywhere, he helps her pick it up when they cross each other's gaze and it's love at first sight. You know the one.

We all love a happy ending, and when they happen we feel like everything is resolved. However, don't forget that this was still a mistake on your part, an accident. So to figure out why it went right, find out how to replicate the moment so that you can bring about this consequence voluntarily.

Reflect on what happened, what little things had to fall in place for this scenario to occur, and how you could have made them fall into place yourself. Moreover, don't let go of the opportunity to ask for feedback and the other party's opinion, if there is one, of what they think had to fall into place. The great thing about happy mistakes isn't the avoidance of repercussions, it's the learning opportunity that landed in your lap.

High-Stakes Mistakes

Another, pretty self-explanatory type of mistake. This is a mistake where because of it there were grave consequences. The worst part about this category is that these mistakes don't have to be big to have big consequences. A sloppy mistake can also turn into a high stake mistake.

When I was a kid, I used to go on a bicycle ride from Italy to Austria every summer. After many years of riding the same path, I got confident and let myself get distracted by the scenery during a high speed downhill section. When I took the turn, my wheel slid onto a rock and I ended up staying in the hospital overnight for a pretty bad concussion. It took years to pay off the medical bill and to this day I have no memory of the fall or the next couple of days.

But high stake mistakes range anywhere from failing a class to losing your livelihood. Luckily, however, most of these types of mistakes we experience only affect the near future, and therefore we can recover from them. When they happen, however, make sure you do everything possible to not repeat them. Ever. This means reflecting on what went wrong and taking preventative measures to ensure it won't happen again.

But prevention is only half of the plan. Some things are out of our control, therefore, it's important to also ensure we know how to deal with these situations in a way the best minimizes the damage done, making the solution and recovery much easier on future us.

Stretch Mistakes

Stretch mistakes are those types of mistakes that have to do with things that are beyond our abilities and which we cannot do without help. These can be something like fixing a car and ending up actually making it worse.

Stretch mistakes are unique because if you've never done a stretch mistake you've never pushed yourself hard enough. Nonetheless, consequences can be dire - you wouldn't want your car to break down in the middle of the highway.

I don't believe stretch mistakes should be avoided because we all learn through making mistakes. However, we must ensure that the mistakes we make are fixed right away. A solution to stretch mistakes is to have someone experienced accompany us through the process while we are led to do the thinking and the hard work. This way, when something is done wrong, the experienced person is there to mend to issue immediately.

. . .

Mistakes are a normal part of life. We've all done all these mistakes above in one way or another, and this is how most of us learn the right way to do something. However, mistakes they are and mistakes they remain. And mistakes have consequences. What's most important is that mistakes should be taken as a lesson and not repeated again. There are many ways we can minimize these consequences, both preemptively, and reactionarily.


Hi, I'm Matthew, my mission is to spread knowledge about motivation, productivity, and enabling people to achieve the best that they can be! I have a vast background in psychology and a passion for self-improvement. I literally can't remember a time when I didn't have a psychology book in my hands. On top of that, I've traveled around the world from a very young age, and seen many different courses of life, forming friendships with highly successful people, as well as people who are willing to do anything to make ends meet. My own life took me down a roller coaster of highs and lows, and I'm forever grateful that I've been able to overcome everything it threw at me. Now I want to take the opportunity to give back, and help others learn tools and methods for becoming who they were born to be!


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