John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C

We were all done a disservice with the way we were taught to learn. In school, information was presented to us, we attempted to memorize it, then we were tested on our retention. The goal was to get roughly an eighty percent or above the first time around.

Most of us couldn't recall what we 'learned' during our formative years if our lives depended on it. This type of education taught us to pass tests, but did not lead to long-term knowledge. Contrastingly, things we did experientially remain with us for the most part.

True learning is acquired through procedural memory

As I am typing this post, I don't think about where the letters are on the keyboard. If I did, I would lose the ability to keep typing. This type of memory is known as procedural or implicit memory compared to memorizing facts, which is referred to as declarative or explicit memory. The former category of memory is formed by experience. This is learning that really gets in your bones.

However, to acquire it requires making lots of mistakes on the way to proficiency. This is real learning. I cannot tell you who was in my typing class in high school or who taught it. But I can type to this day. Furthermore, I cannot recall all the mistakes I made; they are long forgotten.

Yet, when we attempt to learn things in the real world, we feel as if we have failed if we do not succeed in our first attempt. Almost nothing in the known universe works this way. Real learning comes through experience, and experience comes with making mistakes.

Redefining learning and failure

We need to redefine learning and how we frame mistakes and failure. There's an acronym associated with the word FAIL which best defines it - First Attempt In Learning. If you are feeling like you have failed or are struggling to make the attempt, remember this is learning. There is no other way to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to succeed without getting dirty.

Every story of those who have succeeded in any field is a series of mistakes, false starts, and setbacks. This is the path to success. Going through the process is how the individual acquired the necessary knowledge to triumph.

Redefine failure for yourself, and come to the realization that mistakes are essential to achievement. You are not failing when you make them, you are learning and obtaining wisdom. The more you make, the more you learn. Now get out there and screw up:)


John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.

John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance. 

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