Stupid mistakes aren't always stupid

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, August 6, 2013 12:14 AM

I had a typo in yesterday’s blog post. Bobbi pointed it out to me and I immediately fixed it. It happens more often than I’d like. I write, I re-read, I edit, I re-read again and then again, but I don’t always see the mistakes until they’re pointed out to me. It got me thinking about the idea of stupid mistakes.

A stupid mistake is defined as being marked by a lack of intelligence or care; foolish or careless; lacking in common sense, perception or normal intelligence; having dull mental responses; slow-witted. An error or fault resulting from defective judgment, deficient knowledge, or carelessness.

I always think of a stupid mistake as a temporary brain lapse. I equate them with knowing better and being generally smarter but for whatever reason, doing something wrong or inappropriate or altered regardless.

Most of the stupid mistakes I make are of the minor variety. The forgetting to pick something up at the store thing, or going to the bank to get a cashier’s check and forgetting to write down the exact amount thing. I’ve done all of those things and more. I’ve sent the wrong files via email because I have two people in my email list whose name is Stephanie. I’ve attached the wrong draft of files to emails to the right people. I’ve started a load of laundry and forgotten to close the washer lid so it fills but doesn’t spin. I’ve made the wrong turn going to a place I’ve driven to a thousand times. I’ve started garlic butter melting on the stove and temporarily forgotten about it until it starts to burn.

Dumb, or as I like to say, D.U.M.

Stupid mistakes aren’t usually dangerous. They rarely put people’s lives in danger. More likely, they put people’s egos in danger. No one likes to do stupid things, at least I hope they don’t. Maybe teenagers. But that’s more because they haven’t developed their brains enough to know that they’re stupid. So they don’t count.

Still, after my stupid little typo mistake, where I called the famous Julia Child Julie Child, I wondered if maybe mistakes weren’t really mistakes but rather learning experiences disguised as mistakes.

Learning experiences give us the chance to take a situation where we feel embarrassed or stupid and explore why we feel that way. Is it because we know better? That we meant to do the right thing all along, to attach the right document to the email and to send that email to the right Stephanie? That we know that Julia Child is not Julie Child even though there was the rather enjoyable Julie and Julia movie a couple of years ago?

A learning experience is a stupid mistake turned positive. I was able to correct my typo immediately. It won’t be the last time I make such a blunder, but that’s OK. This one will make me scrutinize a little more closely. I’ll try to make more room in my brain for things like the figure needed on a cashier’s check.

And the next time I make a stupid mistake I’ll chalk it up to learning to be better next time. There’s nothing stupid about that.


live out loud

Comments (2) -

8/6/2013 4:02:44 PM #

My hamster died a long time ago...poor thing. But, I'm over it, finally!

Larissa United States

8/7/2013 7:43:14 AM #

You crack me up Larissa!  My hamster is slumbering, weaving, and changing direction. I am fascinated by it.

Pam United States

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