Comment: Learning to fall

Lynn Eaton on the importance of learning from mistakes.

Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? As a toddler I loved the thrill of riding on the cross bar of my dad’s bike.
Then I got my own bike for Christmas and remember wobbling along on stabilisers before I learnt that, if I went fast enough, I could manage without them. 
Eventually I took to the road and now – many years later – I’m still learning: including lessons from the couple of near misses I’ve had.
So the image on our cover, of a toddler on a tricycle, hit a chord about how we’re all learning, no matter what stage we are in our lives, careers or relationships.
For many of you the Health and Care Professions Council biennial registration process will be on your mind – particularly if you need to submit evidence of your continuing professional development. Gwyn Owen’s article (page 28) is a must read. She argues that we learn not just from doing, but from reflecting on things that didn’t quite go the way we wanted.
I was also taken recently, in the coverage of David Bowie’s death, by a comment he made in 1977: ‘If I haven’t made three good mistakes in a week, then I’m not worth anything. You only learn from mistakes.’
None of us wants to make a mistake, particularly if it affects patient care. But like learning to ride a bike, it takes practice, patience and persistence to be good at a job.
That means accepting that you will continue to fall sometimes. And that you can learn from others how to survive – albeit with a few bruises – even when you’ve years of experience.
  • Lynn Eaton managing editor Frontline and head of CSP member communications
Lynn Eaton managing editor Frontline and head of CSP member communications

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