Apprenticeship Patterns: Learn How You Fail

Similar to last week, I continued to read through Chapter 5: Perpetual Learning. This time, the pattern I am writing about is Learn How You Fail, and I’m finding it extremely relevant to my independent study at the moment. The pattern itself discusses that the path to success isn’t just all about learning and knowledge acquisition, but that it is equally important to pay attention to how your learning progresses and analyze why it stalls when it does — because it will stall. Sometimes we have behavioral patterns that negatively influence our ability to learn and perform. Once we become conscious of these behavioral patterns, we’re faced with a choice. You either accept that you will not change and attempt to collide with the issue forever, or you work to fix the problem. In the world of software development, this pattern may come up where there are gaps of knowledge in things that you have failed learning before. When you come across this, try sitting back and examining the trajectory you were on when you originally attempting to learn it and recognize what caused the interference. Try to reiterate on what mistakes you made originally, and intentionally spend time on those issues.

This pattern was particularly good for me to read at the moment because I’m attempting to tinker with the MINIX 3 operating system for my independent study and feel as though I’m struggling to make progress. I’m a fairly reflective person and I try to recognize any mistakes I’m making so I can work on them, but sometimes when something causes much stress and feels overwhelming it is very easy to get sucked in and forget the bigger picture. Taking time to step back, create a new plan of attack, and going at things from a different angle is key to overcoming obstacles. There is always an angle that will work, and it does just take finding it sometimes.

This, perhaps above any other patterns so far, may be the most important lesson to take from this book. It can be applied to every aspect of life and is absolutely critical for success in a field. Not only for success, but for staying in the right mindset (and for staying humble) in your advancement. Recognize that everyone, including yourself, has made and will make mistakes. It is precisely how you proceed forward from those mistakes that makes the difference in the long run.

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