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Locking the pub door to teach perfection a lesson.

Mistakes Maketh Man

Take a second to consider how getting things right makes us grow as people, does it even?

Now, think about what getting things wrong does.

Personally, when I get things right first time it’s the mental equivalent of a long drive. You get from A to B. Safely, quickly but maybe not being present for the entire journey, you don’t think about how well executed that drive was because you just take for granted that’s how you drive.

When I get things wrong, it’s a very different mental experience – maybe equivalent to driving down a road and hitting a big horrific pothole, swerving towards a field of innocent baby lambs, avoiding them and swerving towards a cute bunny rabbit, avoiding the bunny, getting home and realising you’ve dinged an alloy and it’s going to cost you a fortune. You do it once, but the next time you drive that road you know to avoid it.

When I mess up I stop, I look at what has gone wrong. I assess why, how and where. I start to really think about how not to repeat the mistake and be conscious as to what other mistakes may occur.

Mistakes make you think.

Now you probably do think when you get things right, but do you ever stop and think why it went right? Do you consider factors that lead to your success? To you try to pinpoint things that may have made you fail or points you could maybe improve on, if even only a tiny teeny bit? Personally, I don’t.

Now you can look on the topic very generally but I’m thinking more about how this applies to my role as a UX/UI Designer. Especially in the first few years I messed up a million gazillion trillion times, give or take. However, each time I did I made sure I didn’t do it again. Those countless failures, although horrific feeling at the time, have created a base of competency. That sounds average, but I found myself getting to the stage where mistakes happened infrequently if at all. These days I find myself stepping back and looking at both my work and my performance, I try to anticipate short comings and by doing so avoid them happening.

Mistakes do happen but now I sort of love them. They are opportunities to fine tune. Mistakes make you think.

I was recently asked for advice from someone about to begin their career in web design, honestly, I took a bit of a mind blank. As we chatted I got an overwhelming sense of the pressure to maintain perfection straight from the get-go, it seemed way worse than when I started. Which is mental, progression comes from experience, valuable experience comes from time and making mistakes. This person hadn’t made any mistakes yet so why all this pressure? They were a very talented but albeit dry sponge ready to soak up all the spillages (spillages being experience, you follow, eh?).

So, my advice…wasn’t so much advice more slightly depressing disclaimer; they should prepare to make lots of mistakes, to use those mistakes to improve and to not beat yourself up about it.

The old Norse meaning of the word mistake is to ‘take in error’. Take in error, output experience. Like a fucking legend.

Author


Mark McGall
UI & UX Designer

Cyclist, hipster, coffee drinker and guitarist, Mark has spent the last 10 years ensuring your website users journey is as seamless and effortless as possible.

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