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Mistakes Are Propellers

06 October 2013

It’s a human desideratum to make mistakes, to experience failure. Without it, we risk never experiencing true iterative growth.

John Wooden
John Wooden coaching his players at UCLA during a time-out.

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

— John Wooden

Lately, I’ve noticed a building amount of pressure on the web amongst the design community. From Dribbble posts, to Medium accounts, to Behance portfolios, to you name it. There’s this subliminally unattainable goal to be presumably perfect. This isn’t anything new, it’s almost DNA’d into our nature.

There’s one undeniable truth here though, you and I aren’t perfect. Yet, we try so hard to make our work look perfect. We idolize the work of our favorite designers, but we forget there’s a process in their work, a process full of mistakes. The work of those designers are great because they spent time appreciating the mistake and understanding how to make that mistake into something purposeful.

Mistakes are a part of our iterative craft. A mistake teaches you a lot about how you can approach a problem differently the next time you encounter it. Mistakes are progressive experiences.

Mistakes can teach you a lot about the software you’re using, the limitations of the software, the capabilities of it, the creativity you can expand on it. Mistakes can teach you a lot about the people you are building a product for, a lot about what they hate about your design and a lot about what they enjoy about it.

Mistakes can be painful, or an accidental success. Regardless, there’s something you can learn from it. Embrace them and allow them to show. You are not perfect.