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Why Competent People Keep Making Stupid Mistakes

Everybody makes stupid mistakes. Even the most competent people make unethical decisions, errors, oversights, and omissions.

Thus, you cannot avoid stupid mistakes. However, it is possible to keep from making the same stupid mistakes repeatedly.

Unfortunately, many smart and competent individuals do not acknowledge mistakes and keep making them until the money runs out. For instance, movie studios remake the same horrible film several times, though the original flopped.

How to Escape the Cycle of Stupid Mistakes

Fortunately, you can escape the cycle of stupid mistakes by understanding and refining your decision-making process.

A few insights to the insights that can help you understand why human beings make bad decisions include:

1. Human beings are often lousy decision makers

In fact, Great Work Life estimates the average human makes a correct decision 58% of the time. Consequently, 42% of the decisions you make are wrong.\

2. Therefore, you need to prepare to be wrong

In particular, always be ready to change your mind, revise work, and reverse course.

3. Be honest and admit mistakes quickly

The worst catastrophes often occur not because of mistakes but because of lies people make hide mistakes or misdeeds. For example, American President Richard M. Nixon (R-California) destroyed his career by refusing to acknowledge unethical behavior by subordinates.

4.Hidden mistakes will always come back to haunt you

The Watergate scandal; which destroyed Nixon’s career, was a clumsy effort to cover up illegal actions by low-level staff members. Had Nixon acknowledged his staff’s mistakes, he could have probably completed his second term as President.

Quickly acknowledging mistakes and dealing with them is the best way to cope with bad decisions. Watergate was a classic attempt to hide mistakes which spiraled out of control.

5. You will overestimate your abilities

For instance, 76,000 of Americans claim they are safe drivers esurance estimates. However, 93% of the Americans esurance polled admit to unsafe behavior while driving. Moreover, auto accidents killed 40,000 Americans in 2018.

6. Admit that you make mistakes

This data shows you are making more mistakes than you realize. Therefore, you need to adjust your behavior compensate for the mistakes you will make.

7. Have a process for dealing with mistakes

For example, always edit every document you write several times. Ideally, every writer should have a professional edit each piece. If you can afford a professional proofreader. You can also use editing programs to check your documents.

Every professional should follow this advice, no matter what field they work in. For instance, an accountant could have another accountant; or an algorithm, check his figures regularly.

8. Successful people make mistakes

Successful people are not perfect individuals who make no mistakes. Instead, most successful people have a process for dealing with mistakes.

For example, a successful editor could have somebody double checking the pieces she edits. Meanwhile, a successful attorney, could have another lawyer she respects review legal documents she writes.

9. Learn from your mistakes

Every mistake is a learning opportunity. Successful people analyze their mistakes to learn how to improve the process. Unsuccessful people ignore or hide their mistakes and keep the same mistake repeatedly.

When something goes wrong, do not get mad or scared. Instead, ask what went wrong and why?

10. Mistakes are the price of success

If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying and you cannot be successful. If you are making mistakes, you are taking risks and trying.


“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate” – Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM source: Brainyquote.


Therefore, the time to worry is not when you make mistakes, but when you believe you are not making mistakes. Competent people make stupid mistakes because they refuse to admit they will make stupid mistakes.


Thus the only stupid mistake is the one you do not learn from.