This week on inBubbleWrap: Better By Mistake ( ) I should really have asked our boss, Jack, t

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This week on inBubbleWrap: Better By Mistake

I should really have asked our boss, Jack, to write this inBubbleWrap post because we have had a number of conversations lately about making mistakes. Not the "left the door of the refrigerator open overnight" kind of mistake, nor the "forgot to add a zero to that revenue column and just about gave everyone a heart-attack" kind of mistake, but the "you're free to try something new, and it if doesn't work, then we move forward from there" kind of mistake. We internally think of our failure to get a new venture to fly as a mistake, or as mistake-riddled. But here is a quote from Jack in a recent email to me: "Failing can be cool."

Alina Tugend agrees. Her new book, Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong, explores "the inherent tension between what we're told--we must make mistakes in order to learn, how all great leaders and inventors have embraced them--and the reality that we often get punished for making mistakes and therefore try to avoid them--or cover them up...." Our mistakes at work certainly don't get ignored, but Jack's ideology has influenced how comfortable we are at taking calculated risks because it avoids punishment and encourages learning.

This is the great lesson about this book, which looks at mistakes in business culture, education, medicine, between genders, and between our own ears, without ever indulging in 'I'm Okay; You're Okay' advice: Have high expectations, but be gentle with yourself when you don't meet them in order to stay open to the lesson your mistakes can teach you. "We should strive to do our best, but if the prize is ever elusive perfection, then the fear of failure will too often overshadow the willingness to experiment, take risks, and challenge ourselves." Personally, for most of my life, mistakes were anathema to me. Team sports intimidated me because making an error that could cost my teammates was horrifying. Sending a short story in to a literary magazine just to have it rejected seemed a masochistic endeavor. Becoming a parent has taught me a lot about letting go of perfection, adjusting expectation. And reading a book like Better by Mistake, chockful of evidence and anecdote, is a terrific reminder that perfection is over-rated, criticism is a tool, hindsight is only useful if you leave judgment out of it, and, to be human is to be a work in progress.

Read more about [Better By Mistake]( and sign up to win a copy of Better By Mistake this week on inBubbleWrap! This is one of those books that even if you don't win a copy, be sure to put a copy in your cart.

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