Learning From Our Mistakes

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On Friday I had my haircut. Mike, the barber, had bought a car that kept going wrong. The garage that sold it to him were unwilling to sort out the problems.

Mike’s very amusing but longwinded. It became complicated… ending with the car un-mended and Mike using foul and abusive language and threatening behaviour to the garage…‘My daughter wishes I’d learn from my mistakes,’ he said.

Our conversation continued… we don’t learn from our mistakes… if we did old people would be perfect… he hadn’t had many perfect old men coming for a haircut.

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Yesterday we were talking about corporal punishment in schools. In the last years that it was legal every incident of an administered caning had to be carefully recorded in a book.

In 1992, starting a new job, I discovered one such book. It was a fascinating document… the ‘crimes committed’, the punishments deemed appropriate… The same student names were repeated in the book. Clearly they didn’t learn from their mistakes.

Much is written about learning from our mistakes… the importance of reflection… the willingness to be honest and vulnerable… listening to others and not being defensive… owning mistakes and not blaming others… looking at mistakes as positive learning opportunities… forgiving ourselves and others… moving forward after mistakes…

If we all learnt from our mistakes Norwich City wouldn’t be bottom of the Premier League (and wouldn’t have sacked their manager), there would be no allegations of ‘Tory sleaze’ and the COP26 climate change conference would take a very different approach…

…musing on the picture of God as a shepherd… His sheep make repeated mistakes just because they’re sheep… The Good Shepherd cares for them, going out of his way to rescue them …

I keep making mistakes… I lose my way… The Good Shepherd rescues me repeatedly … I want to, but don’t always learn from my mistakes…

Perhaps if I follow the Shepherd more closely I won’t make so many mistakes…  

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