If you had known, you would have done otherwise. That is. But how do we know? According to a not-at-all-scientific study, which has nevertheless been validated multiple times, making mistakes often makes it possible to learn, very quickly, and without the risk of forgetting. Of course, there will always be sore losers who claim that saying “I learned from my mistakes” is a good excuse to get over it, and that it is better to succeed than to fail, to be right than wrong, to know that wade.
Oddly, these are the same people who display “perfect success” and know better than everyone else; those in contact with whom we end up feeling a little shabby, a little failed and so much less sure of ourselves… And why not, rather, prefer those who try without always succeeding? Those who screw up, a lot or a little but often, and have the strength to recognize it, and to transform it? Those who stubbornly practice joyful serendipity, the art of finding something other than what they were looking for, to which the novelist William Boyd opposes the sinister “zemblanity”, which produces catastrophic but perfectly predictable results? As a young lawyer, Marie-France defended a cause which she finally realized went against her deep convictions. She is now fighting against this cause. With the same strength as Nicolas, who spends his life as an inventor going from error to error to sometimes approach success. These two have in common, with many others, the beautiful vitality and modest nerve of those who move forward, whatever the cost. This is no doubt what makes each of their errors moving and precious. And their victories.
Nicolas, 48, inventor
“My trial and error is my heritage”
“I abandoned the profession of engineer, which consists in being sure of obtaining a result, most often with a great deal of resources, in favor of that of inventor, who advances towards an undefined goal, subject to many many bifurcations and multiple wanderings. The objects that I invent are born from an absolutely enormous number of trials and errors. They are my heritage, my capital, my humus! Even if not all of them are equal: for me, those that make progress are those for which I pay the price. Those, I have to take them into account, I store them, I document them and even sometimes I use them. Design faults are the stages of learning. Their accumulation allows me to purify my reasoning, to “de-intellectualize” myself to the extreme and get as close as possible to my “bestial” instinct. Moreover, my great happiness is when they end up with a useful, amusing object, inexpensive to produce, that we comment on “it’s just stupid! For more than twenty years that I have been doing this job, I have learned to like mistakes, provided they come from me. What drives me crazy is making mistakes because I let myself be influenced, and I didn’t have the strength to trust myself more. I need to feel responsible for them in order to be able to cash them. And unraveling them, understanding why and how I messed up… Every day spent in my workshop convinces me that trying and making mistakes is a fundamental process in the development of life and of humanity. But maybe this is my biggest mistake? As long as I don’t know the end of the story, impossible to answer this question. »
Nicolas Trüb is the author of My retirement at 29 (Michalon) and My dream is not to go somewhere else (News from the future). His inventions are visible on stilicforce.fr
Marie-France, 40 years old, lawyer
“I had the wrong fight, but I was always sincere”
“I grew up in an ultra-Catholic family, where we moved forward with certainties, without the possibility of questioning ourselves. My mother was a figure in the fight against abortion1, supported by Opus Dei. Very young, I followed in his footsteps without asking myself any questions. As a student, I was active in a very right-wing union, then, once a lawyer, I actively fought against abortion. I lived in a closed universe where everyone thinks the same way. It was when my first daughter was born that I started asking myself questions. I was 30 years old and I realized that I didn’t believe at all in what I had been fighting for for twenty years. And that I didn’t want to raise my daughter in this closed world. I found myself in a great void. Freedom, feminism, I knew nothing about it. I learned everything from the books and started a real life, in a normal world. I devoted myself to women’s rights, instinctively, with the same militant power that I had been taught to use against them. I got closer to my old “enemies” to join them in their fight. We have become friends. I have been wrong in my beliefs all these years, but I have always been sincere. I do not regret it. Today, I have chosen to fight forcefully for women’s freedom. Not to fix my mistakes, but out of gratitude for those who fought before me. It didn’t separate me from my mother: even if our fights are opposed, she encourages me to be proud of myself and to feed on my story to move forward. That’s what I do, continuing to love him infinitely. »
1. Marie-France Fontana is the daughter of Claire Fontana, founder of the association La Trêve de Dieu, which became famous in the 1980s and 1990s through sometimes violent actions against clinics where voluntary termination of pregnancy was practiced .