Making The Most Of Mistakes

How do I know if this is not a fortunate event?

Episode 05 with hosts, Leah Zaidi, Jason Theodor and Dré Labre.

May 13, 2020

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s how we recover from our mistakes that makes the difference between failure and success. In this episode of The Post-Normal Show, we discuss the mistakes we’ve made, how we move on from our mistakes, and the research that helps us make the most of our mistakes.

Making The Most Of Mistakes — Episode 5 of The Post-Normal Show

Top 3 Insights from this Episode

Here are three important things you need to know about mistakes.

01 The old meaning of the word success was simply ‘an outcome’, any outcome. The term success is derived from ‘succession’, meaning doing the next thing or taking the next step. It does not necessarily mean a desirable outcome. When we speak about mistakes versus failure now, we assume that not reaching a desired outcome is a failure. Our culture has changed the meaning of success to be self-centred, even though the original definition suggests that the only real mistake or failure is not taking any further steps towards an outcome.

02 The Dunning-Kruger Effect describes how we mistakenly have high-confidence in our abilities when we start off learning new things. We assume our expertise and understanding of any given subject is greater than it actually is. It’s only when our expertise extends past ‘Mount Stupid’ that we realize how little we know and how much we have left to learn. Until then, we’re bound to make a lot of mistakes.

Dunning-Kruger Effect via Mike Dudley

03 The Four Stages of Competence by Jared Spool is a helpful design framework that describes our journeys from ignorance to mastery. Recognizing which stage an individual (or organization) is in could help you better assist others with their learning journey.

Four Stages of Competence slide from presentation by Jared Spool

Links from the show

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Origin of the Word Success

Miles Davis Quote

It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note — it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.
Miles Davis

High-Performing Teams

Michael Jordan Quote Nike Ad

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. — Michael Jordan

Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

Art and Fear: Ceramics Example

Jason’s Live Unfinished Book on Creativity

UFO article (Pentagon releases three UFO videos taken by US navy pilots —The Guardian)

Dunning-Kruger Effect

John Cleese on Stupidity

John Cleese on Stupid People

Stages of Design Literacy (The Flexibility of the Four Stages of Competence by Jared Spool)

Chinese Proverb: The Old Man Who Lost His Horse

During the 戰國時代 Warring States period, there was an old man from the frontier. One day, his horse ran away. The neighbors came to console him, but was surprised when he said, “How do I know if this is not a fortunate event?” Indeed a few days later, his horse not only returned, but also brought back a fine steed. The neighbors came to congratulate him, but was surprised again when he said, “How do I know if this is a fortunate event?”

One week later, the old man’s son fell and broke his leg when he tried to ride the fine steed. The neighbors visited the old man after the incident and heard his wise words once more, “How do I know if this is not a fortunate event?”

On a misty day, the emperor’s army marched into the old man’s village to recruit healthy young men for war. Luckily for the old man, his son need not join because of his broken leg.

Who Knows What’s Good or Bad? by David Allan (contains the proverb of the farmer and his horse)

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (book) by Al and Laura Reis
(audiobook on cassette no longer available)

Kintsugi and the Art of Repair by Andrea Mantovani

Kylo Ren and the ARt of Kintsugi in the Rise of Skywalker

Kylo Ren and the Art of Kintsugi in The Rise of Skywalker

Three Classifications of Mistakes in Contract Law

  • Unilateral mistake
  • Mutual mistake
  • Common mistake

Brené Brown’s TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown — The Power of Vulnerability

Misimprovement — Urban Dictionary:

Centre for Post-Normal Policy and Futures Studies

Post Normal Science on Wikipedia

Post-normal Science graph

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What will the world become next? Our idea of normal is changing faster than we ever predicted. The Post-Normal Show is a conversation that explores and dissects radical change from a futures, systems, and design perspective. Hosted by Leah Zaidi, Jason Theodor, and Dre Labre.

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Jason Theodor

Jason Theodor

is an Executive Design Leader, Speaker, Writer, Consultant who is trying to comprehend his surroundings. Find more at

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