Notes and Thoughts

Discursive working and evergreen notes


To understand the mistakes you make, record and review your mistakes.

Creating a mistakes log where you can record, without personal judgement, the mistakes you make, is an effective tool for postmortemspostmortems
A practice of reviewing failed (or partially failed) projects and identifying lessons and updates.
and for detecting patterns. I use a mistakes tag in my Roam Research to tag items that turned out to be mistakes or to record cases where I make an error.

However the hard part is not necessarily the recording of mistakes, but reviewing and learning from them. Similar to the point Andy MatuschakAndy Matuschak

makes about transient notes, most people and organizations record mistakes without ever looking back at them and learning from them.

Or, the mistakes become political - imagine an organization that uses a mistakes log to determine whether someone should get promoted or reprimanded. Even with truly motivated, good people it won't be long before the mistakes log is fake, and just another Charts for CharlesCharts for Charles
A term that stuck with me from a management training I took in 2013. The CEO of a company was metrics oriented, and wanted teams to create and use charts and metrics to make their decisions. Months later, he learned a term was being employed for this type of work - charts for Charles. The charts were busy work, fake work, that didn't actually effect the decisions but were seen as window dressing to appease the boss. For example, any number of useful, good forecasting approaches/techniques end...
style tool. I notice this at the personal level - if I force myself to review my mistakes log to learn from it, inevitably I start to 'forget' to do the reviews, or I do it in a cursory, fast fashion without reflecting and integrating insights.

So reviews tend to fail when it's about confronting my brain with things that it doesn't want to know or acknowledge. However, there are times where I'm happy to review my mistakes:

  • Twilight Imperium 4: It's been fun looking over my game notes and seeing where I made mistakes and what I could have done differently.
  • Meditation: I've had several Wayfinding MeditationWayfinding Meditation
    Wayfinding meditation is a free form style of meditation I've been practicing. I've found it to be surprisingly powerful practice. I start by settling into the space, closing my eyes, and noticing my breath. I then let my attention go to whatever arises, without direction or constraint, just following what feels right.

    Things that tend to feel right:

    Following a thought 'to completion'. For instance noticing an unresolved thought/intention, engaging with it until I feel in full alig...
    style meditations where I reflected on my mistakes. They were harder, but somehow satisfying.
  • Certain work projects: Programming projects where I get specific feedback, presentations where I know the person is an expert.

I'm not sure what if anything these have in common. This is an open questionopen question
Tag for a thing I'm puzzling
for me that I'd like to understand better. My current thinking is that the dominant motivation is 'true desire to get better' at the base of all of these that makes reviewing mistakes aligned with the end goal, while with a lot of other times errors come up there's a conflation with other motivations, like 'status', 'a specific end goal', 'to be seen as good', etc. In those cases, confronting errors, even if it might help with the nominal goal, conflcits too much with other parts of myself.

I think the true answer then is to do things that have that true motivation, but that seems a bit too much like a 'fake explanation' / stopsign for me to feel like I really get that.