Posted by: changheuk | March 29, 2010

Not thinking outside the box

This is a very simple sounding problem, but one that will indefinitely cause someone like me endless problems.

Say you are required to complete a task of some sort for the first time or for the very first few times.

You make a mistake. It could be something very simple.

But you make a mistake.

And many things don’t allow a second time. Interviews, exams, tests.

You don’t think you’ve made a mistake, because you think you aren’t making a mistake. Thinking that you’re always making a mistake would simply cause a nervous breakdown or something.

And its very hard to have the mindset of “Am I making a mistake right now?” every single moment. You could become way too self-conscious and unconfident looking.

“Be careful, check things over.”

Unfortunately, if you weren’t aware of the problem the first two times, you are unlikely to spot it the third time, unless someone told you, unless you were shown.

Unless you were shown.

Now how can you become aware of a mistake if you aren’t shown?

So the only way in order to not make a mistake is to practice something so many times until you can’t possibly mess up anymore?

Great, but how much time will that consume? Eventually, you’ll think you’re good. And many things have no retakes. You studied for 3 weeks straight, you write an exam, you make mistakes, you don’t realize after you check things over. GG.

Is the only way to not make mistakes is to study for it 10 years in advance?

What makes someone not mess up then? Smartness? Enhanced perception? Better screw-up detectors in the brain?

Damn, what a costly problem.

It is very simple but too idealistic to say that if you had smart, well-educated, upper-class working parents like an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer or a doctor or a professor or something you would easily be much more successful in life than your average middle-class working parents’ offspring.

While not necessarily true all the time (some rich parents have kids that take money for granted and just slack, while poor kids are inspired and motivated to make themselves and their next generation live in comfort), there seems to be a high correlation. How this relates to my post is that, if your parents are academics themselves, they’re going to offer you much more insight into your education and academic career. You won’t be going to Arts and Humanities majoring in Psychology when you’re not even half-interested in it just because high school mathematics and chemistry wasn’t your thing and you decided altogether that Nutritional Science, Science, and Engineering wasn’t going to suit you. You would have a stronger foundation to set your feet on. To be honest, I am kind of biased. I feel that my cousin, who’s father is a lawyer, was much more well-stimulated intellectually as a child, and was set in the right direction the whole time, that’s why he is a medical school student now. I was a little smart, but not very well stimulated by non-university parents, and even though I made it to the damn tertiary institution, I found myself falling flat on my face due to inadequacies during my bringing-up. In a sense, another way of saying “I like to blame my parents for failing my finals.” In an more exaggerated sense, I would just like to make a clear point that the sons of Harvard graduates are MUCH MORE LIKELY to become university students themselves. They were probably shown in early high school what they would have to do to become great, while most average high school kids don’t give a damn. And would they know they had to care? Only a select few would, because they know if they don’t start working hard early, they’ll fall behind to the elite.



  1. I don’t understand your problem. Actions don’t exist in a vacuum, but in a chain of events. Your actions will lead to a result (otherwise there’s no point in doing them, right?). If the result is not what it would have been if you had done everything right, you know you made a mistake. If you only have one try, you set that action in another chain of events with a known outcome to test it. In the case of a test, that would be a mock-test, where you’d know the answer. If your process leads to a different answer, you know you have a mistake, and you can alter your process until your outcome matches the right result.
    So, what am I not getting here?

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