Intelligent People Learn From the Mistakes Others Make

· April 1, 2017

The idea that we learn from our mistakes is an almost absolute truth, especially if we are constantly observant and analytical along with being intuitive. That is why they say that once we have learned a lesson from a mistake, we must avoid making it again.

In that sense, it seems rather easy to observe failure if we have done it ourselves. But what about the mistakes that others make? Life is limited and we have too much time to make all the mistakes ourselves. As such, why not focus on the mistakes that others make in order to avoid them? It is not only an issue of time, but by doing this, we will also avoid suffering the negative consequences of that mistake.

A mistake you do not learn from is a mistake you will repeat

From the moment we are born, we start realizing that failing is a way of finding truth in the medium and long term. The first years of our life, we are constantly failing, but over time, we start to recognize the fruits of our failures, with a more intense and lasting taste. When we get older, the consequences become more complicated, which does not mean that the process is completely invalid.

Woman Smelling Flowers

These consequences are also tied to the positive side that we can find in those circumstances. That is to say, the mistakes with the most negative consequences also tend to be the ones that have a great ability to transform us. In this sense, we must not forget that the very process of accepting consequences can also be a great lesson, not just the failure in and of itself.

“‘Mistakes,’ he said with effort, ‘are also important to me. I don’t cross them out of my life, or memory. And I never blame others for them.’”

-Andrzej Sapkowski-


We learn to store our bad experiences together in a box that has the label “do not repeat.” However, these mistaken strategies sometimes escape from that box, luckily: just because they did not work in one set of circumstances does not mean that they do not work in others. Maybe we are not prepared at 18 to start our own business, but we could be at 30. Along the way, we will have gathered experience and learned from the right and wrong things that our bosses have done.

Staying aware is a defensive weapon

Someone once said that all people can be divided into three big groups: one that assimilates their mistakes; another that in addition to their own, also does this with the mistakes of others; and a final group that does neither of these.

It is good to belong to this second group, especially because doing so reduces our probability of falling into a well just to prove that it is there. Staying aware of what is happening around us is a defensive weapon to prevent avoidable injuries.

“Because we are all the one that made us mess up, and the connection to the mistake is sometimes stronger than any other”

-Belén Gopegui-

Others teach us about concrete situations without needing to experience them personally. Using our mind’s eye, we are capable of meeting them with empathy and humility, without judging or criticizing them. We can also do so sensitively and cautiously, even elaborating on the possible consequences that could have arisen as a result of the other options chosen.

Eyes GIF

There is always something new to learn

However, what other reasons can there be to focus on the behaviors of others? Maybe the most important of all is that there is always something new to learn. In this sense, life is a constant opportunity to learn.

An opportunity that is part of the gifts of life. Furthermore, beyond the pleasure that is implied and that only some of us have found, it is a pragmatic and intelligent activity. Maybe it does not remove all of the obstacles from our path, but with it, we will be able to detect some of them and go around them.

“We should dedicate ourselves to letting go of a large part of what we have learned and learning what we were not taught.”

-Ronald Laing-

This is why it is essential for us to belong to the group of wise people who take advantage of the good that life has to offer us. Living like someone who pays no attention to his own errors or to those of others really is not living in an intelligent way.