• Science, my lad, has been built upon many errors; but they are errors which it was good to fall into, for they led to the truth.” – Jules Verne

Today is World Science Day for Peace and Development which seems like a particular great day to make a mistake. The kind Jennifer Gresham talks about in her article “Eureka! A Cure for Perfectionism” (thanks Katie)…

  • “It is estimated that 30-50% of all scientific discoveries are to some degree accidental. I worked as a scientist with some of the best scientists in the world for over 15 years, and I’d say that number is likely a conservative one. Here’s how it happens. You go into the lab, or one of your grad students goes into the lab to do an experiment you’ve done dozens of times. You make a mistake in the procedure, and all of a sudden the results are entirely unexpected. You can’t explain them with what you know today. So you dig a little deeper and then ‘Eureka!’. That’s how discovery often happens. These moments in science are hardly ever planned or anticipated. They start with doing things a little bit differently. In fact, they often start with a mistake. And I can’t help but wonder, why don’t we do the same thing with our own lives. Why don’t we approach life with more curiosity and tolerance for the unexpected?…Why? It’s a completely uninteresting life, a life devoid of surprise, and yet it’s one we increasingly choose for ourselves.

She relates the experience of parenting her own daughter and chastising her for her mistakes (like seeing if her duckie could swim in circles by trying to flush it down the toilet). So she instituted a morning ritual of saying to each other “It’s a great day to make a mistake!”

Have a great day…to make a mistake.

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