(Another collaboration of the Engineer and the Un.)

Oh, sure. The Shudoffs would say it’s worth doing well. Well, that’s their job. They sit around in your head and tell you what you should do. Or, better yet, what you should have done. They want you to wait till you are sure you can to it. And if that waiting takes too long, the Shudoffs will complain that you should have started sooner.

But nobody wants to screw up.

And nobody does screw up. It takes somebody to decide that what happened is a screw up. Or to make some other interpretation of what happened.

Any plan that doesn't work is a trial run.- –The Engineer
I have not failed. I've just found 1,000 ways that won't work.—Thomas Edison

A screw-up by any other name is still a screw-up.

No. It is merely a result that you didn’t expect. Sometimes it is a comedy, as the Marx Brothers would tell you. Sometimes it is a discovery. Sometimes it is a learning experience. Sometimes it is a disaster. Sometimes it is a trial run. Sometimes it is a detour sign. Sometimes it is an opportunity.

These are all names people use to tell themselves how to react to an unexpected result. Everybody gets those. Sometimes people choose names that make things worse. Sometimes people choose names that will help them get better use out of the unexpected results.

If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything.
The road to success is paved with mistakes.

If you don’t screw-up, you won’t have to name it.

If you don’t want to screw-up, you don’t want to take risks. If you don’t take risks, you don’t take opportunities. What would you call missing opportunities?

The saddest words of tongue or pen
Are only these: it might have been.

How do people get used to dealing with screw-ups?

It takes practice. You see people with cool hands. They screw up like an expert. Smooth. Casual. Like they’ve been doing it for years. They have.

The only public part of the success story is the last act.

Is there anything you can do about screw-ups besides get used to them?

Sure. You can plan for them. Then they don’t surprise you. You can build them into your schedule. Work them into your budget. Have a plan B. Use them as classes in Experience 101.

Think about your own screw-ups. Are you satisfied with how you deal with them? Have you had enough experience with them to be an expert? What do you know about them? What do you learn from them?

The key that works will always be last one you try.

Author's Bio: 

Selby Evans was formerly Professor of Psychology at Texas Christian University and an independent consultant in behavioral research. He retired some years ago. Not yet having attained the age of senility, he now provides consulting to the Applied Cognitive Research Lab at Texas Christian University and maintains a website, thinkerer.org, intended to disseminate the findings of applied cognitive research to people interested in self-improvement, self-growth, and self-direction. He also maintains a blog at thinkerer.blogspot.com