By betsy On Wednesday, September 21 st, 2011 · no Comments · In

The MBA essay that asks about learning from a mistake scares almost everyone. This is a question that, in various forms, can be found on many applications, notably that of Harvard Business School.

For those of you who are petrified of writing the “mistake” essay, take heart: it is ok to make mistakes. Why? Because you learn from them.

MBA essay question writers are smart. They know that learning from a mistake is a good thing. In fact, if you make mistakes, and admit you make mistakes, you learn more.

Google the two words together “mistake” and “learning” and you get 20 million hits. Research shows that making mistakes is one of the best ways to get continuous feedback on your learning. Mistakes are well known to be a critical part of the learning process.

Learning from Giants
Imagine that: learning from mistakes – it seems like a backwards way to build confidence, but it works. For example, Michael Jordan didn’t even make the varsity team in high school after attending a summer basketball camp. But he learned from being corrected, and then repeated those corrections over and over. He got better— much better—by continually improving the weakest part of his game. In a powerful Nike ad on YouTube, you can watch his inspirational message:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
Twenty-six 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.

How Do You Pick?
So , you might think, I’ve made so many mistakes, how can I pick just one? I suggest you back into it by picking something you have appreciated learning. For me, I appreciate having learned how to slow down and think. I’m not very good at it all the time, but I can relate tale after tale of putting my foot in my mouth because I wasn’t thinking of anything other than being witty or sassy, or having people be impressed with me. Some of my mistakes are cringe-worthy, but I’ve learned, slowly, and imperfectly, to pace myself.

Neither you nor I are Michael Jordan, but hey, we’re on our way.