Over the years I have learned that I’m wrong on a daily basis. I have also learned that instead of it being something to be ashamed of, it’s actually something to smile about, learn from and then try to do better. In line with this thinking is the idea that a blame culture is just stupid and counter productive.

However, It’s not always advisable to talk about your mistakes. On one occasion, fifteen years ago, I was in a meeting with some senior decision makers at a large Swedish car manufacturing company. Having told them, proudly, that I probably held the world record in making mistakes, they almost kicked me out immediately. They told me that they never made any mistakes at that company, which was super surprising to me.

I have since realised that one's audience appreciates more careful phrasing. I do celebrate “mistakes” when in experimentation mode, but I try hard to experiment enough so that delivery/production mode is more predictable.

That said, I realised the other day that I’ve needed some epic relearning recently. Not that those mistakes of mine did any harm per se, but they are on a different scale to those I remember being wrong about before. (What proved that the mistakes were mistakes… I mean, what actually happened in the world… Now, that’s extremely harmful.)

As always, looking at mistakes in hindsight makes them look stupid, but I still made them. Here they are:

  • Even though democracy is far from perfect, almost everybody chooses it over a power crazy dictator every day. - I thought that the whole world has long since believed the same things.
  • Ugly and primitive wars are something of the past. - I did understand wars weren’t over, but I thought they were decreasing. I thought the trend was clear.
  • Energy will soon be practically free and in good supply. Also, that in the future, energy is not going to be an instrument of force any longer. - Again, there were large differences between different countries, but the direction and trend was there.

I know, I was utterly naive and wrong on a world-record scale. When I realised that, I no longer experienced the usual joy of relearning. It wasn’t shame, but rather a feeling of misery and sadness.

BTW, it seems like my three errors are connected. If your country abuses your energy system, your country, or neighbouring countries become vulnerable to wars by dictators. That probably goes for abusing your defence and other things as well.

How come I was so wrong? I guess my sheer luck of being born in Sweden is one reason for that. We’ve had democracy for a long time and, overall, it has been good for us. Fortunately, it’s been a long time since we were at war. And thanks to having hydroelectric and nuclear energy for a long time, and wind and solar power more recently, electricity has been cheap. I do know that all this is considered a luxury to many countries. Still, I thought every country was slowly moving in a similar direction, that it was a global trend.

Another reason for my being wrong was that I thought my beliefs made logically sense. Every country should move in that direction while we are coming up with something even better.

Having realised I was wrong on so many different and important matters, it actually took me a while to understand that it wasn’t just a short crumble in the inevitable positive logic sequence. I still hadn’t left my bubble after several weeks. I was sad, but I still didn’t relearn.

When I finally understood, it was a humbling experience. Of course I needed to leave the bubble with an open mind. When I did, I finally became smarter. Unfortunately, I didn’t at all feel like cheering this time. It’s just a period of sorrow.

I hope that there will soon be new epic relearning. Positive this time!

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