To Err Is Human: Why Failure Is The Only Way To Succeed


Failing does not make you a failure, As failure is only temporary. Sometimes when you fail, It means that you weren't meant to succeed in it. Believing that failing makes you a failure kinda shows how much of an idiot you are for actually thinking such a thing is true. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” The only way to change what isn’t working in your life is to get to the truth.

Working hard at getting a good education has long been seen as the right thing to do, because education is the key to success. But why? Find out more here.

Working hard at school and going on to further education or college has long been encouraged by parents and teachers for generations, as most people believe education is the key to success.

Civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.” His words still ring true today. Even at a high school level, students are encouraged to analyse texts, numbers and trends to allow them to see society in a new light. This broadens the mind and helps us to see the world afresh. But there are many other fantastic reasons that education is good for us — and many ways in which it can be the key to professional success.

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1. It helps you gain personal control of your life

To Err Is Human: Why Failure Is The Only Way To Succeed Quote

You might not have been born into the life you want to live forever. And that’s where education can help. By getting an education, you give yourself the chance to change your life for the better. You might graduate and become a manager instead of an entry-level employee. You might become a CEO or shareholder and take home profits at the end of the month instead of just a salary. Over time, your whole world can open up and new, exciting personal and career opportunities can develop. University of the People offers lots of options to get educated at a university level. And as UoPeople is tuition-free, coming from a family that can’t sponsor your studies is not a barrier to getting started.

2. It helps to make the world a better place

As you gain your education, you’ll be gaining a deeper understanding of what’s right, wrong, fair and unfair. As you develop your reasoning and critical thinking skills, you’ll be able to apply these skills to situations in your life. You’ll be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a citizen. You’ll make more balanced personal judgments and over time, you’ll apply these to society and help to make the world a better place.

3. If gives you the skills required for employment

As you progress through a college degree, you’ll learn how to manage your time; how to juggle several tasks at the same time and how to interact with all kinds of people, from fellow students to professors and industry professionals. These skills are vital for the future. When you go into the workplace — or back into the workplace if you’re a mature student — you’ll take a more carefully honed set of interpersonal and organisational skills with you. All of which will help you shine at work and cope with the challenges that the professional world throws at you.

4. It gives you increased earning power

A recent study from Georgetown University found that, on average, college graduates earn $1 million more in earnings over their lifetime. Another study by the Pew Research Center found that the median yearly income gap between high school and college graduates is around $17,500. Of course, if you’re paying back student loans not all of this will be profit. But studying with a tuition-free university such as University of the People you can forgo this problem, as you won’t have to borrow money to pay for tuition as you learn. There are also many scholarships available to cover the minimal assessment fees.

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5. Education allows you to turn your dreams into a reality

When Mark Zuckerberg was at college, he dreamed of a more connected society and invented Facebook. The rest is history. But even if you don’t invent a website that will change the world, college can connect you with the chance to live your dreams.

If a higher salary is on your wishlist, you’re in luck. According to the American Institute For Economic Research, college grads aged 25-32 earn $17,000 more each year than those who didn’t go to college, and 72% of millennials of the same age say their degree has already paid off. And if you’re over 32? Don’t worry! There’s no upper limit on your earning power. Get the degree under your belt, and whatever age you are, you may find your dreams become one step closer to reality.

6. It gives you confidence and staying power

A degree is considered proof of your intelligence by many. Even at the high school level, getting a certificate in a certain subject is a way of proving to the outside world that you have an in-depth knowledge of that subject and that you can stick out challenging scenarios to the end. You can get through the tough times, the deadlines, the nights spent in front of the computer, frantically writing your paper. You did it and this will help you to believe in yourself and others (employers) to believe in you. You’ll also be one step ahead in the knowledge stakes — having dedicated time to studying the latest books, papers and learnings on a subject, you will have an in-depth understanding of your subject matter, compared to those who only have general knowledge.

7. Education sharpens your financial intelligence

Let’s be honest — a big part of getting your degree is managing your finances so you can have enough cash in the short-term to afford to finish the course. Even simple things like working out how to make $100 a week from a part-time job, or reading up on interest rates on loans for tuition fees, can help you develop budgeting skills and economic understanding that will set you in good stead for life.

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8. Education helps you channel your energy

Whether you’re learning woodwork or business economics, singing or coding, the chance to follow a curriculum from start to finish gives you the chance to channel your energy out of your body and brain and into something else in a targeted way. Learning a new skill or subject can help you feel more energetic, purposeful and positive about life in general.


Education is a mind-expanding gift that can broaden your horizons and enrich your life. But there are other pertinent reasons for getting an education too. It can really help you break into new industries, be taken seriously and boost your overall confidence. Long days in the library or studying at home on your laptop can be tough, but you will learn a lot of life-enhancing, transferable skills in between the assignments, that will be with you forever.

You might also be interested in:

  • How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in 2 Years. Move Fast!Academic Degrees
  • Fun Things to Do at Home – Is Studying One of Them?Tips for Students
  • What is the Impact of Coronavirus on EducationIs UoPeople Worth it

James Reason’s 12 Principles of Error Management

James Reason, Professor Emeritus, University of Manchester, set out 12 systemic human factors centric principles of error management in his book Managing Maintenance Error: A Practical Guide (co-written with Alan Hobbs and published in 2003). These principles are valid beyond aviation maintenance and are well worth re-visiting:

  1. Human error is both universal & inevitable:Human error is not a moral issue. Human fallibility can be moderated but it can never be eliminated.
  2. Errors are not intrinsically bad:Success and failure spring from the same psychological roots. Without them we could neither learn nor acquire the skills that are essential to safe and efficient work.
  3. You cannot change the human condition, but you can change the conditions in which humans work:Situations vary enormously in their capacity for provoking unwanted actions. Identifying these error traps and recognising their characteristics are essential preliminaries to effective error management.
  4. The best people can make the worst mistakes: No one is immune! The best people often occupy the most responsible positions so that their errors can have the greatest impact…
  5. People cannot easily avoid those actions they did not intend to commit:Blaming people for their errors is emotionally satisfying but remedially useless. We should not, however, confuse blame with accountability. Everyone ought to be accountable for his or her errors [and] acknowledge the errors and strive to be mindful to avoid recurrence.
  6. Errors are consequences not causes: …errors have a history. Discovering an error is the beginning of a search for causes, not the end. Only be understanding the circumstances…can we hope to limit the chances of their recurrence.
  7. Many errors fall into recurrent patterns:Targeting those recurrent error types is the most effective way of deploying limited Error Management resources.
  8. Safety significant errors can occur at all levels of the system:Making errors is not the monopoly of those who get their hands dirty. …the higher up an organisation an individual is, the more dangerous are his or her errors. Error management techniques need to be applied across the whole system.
  9. Error management is about managing the manageable:Situations and even systems are manageable if we are mindful. Human nature – in the broadest sense – is not. Most of the enduring solutions…involve technical, procedural and organisational measures rather than purely psychological ones.
  10. Error management is about making good people excellent:Excellent performers routinely prepare themselves for potentially challenging activities by mentally rehearsing their responses to a variety of imagined situations. Improving the skills of error detection is at least as important as making people aware of how errors arise in the first place.
  11. There is no one best way:Different types of human factors problem occur at different levels of the organisation and require different management techniques. Different organisational cultures require different ‘mixing and matching’….of techniques. People are more likely to buy-in to home grown measures…
  12. Effective error management aims as continuous reform not local fixes: There is always a strong temptation to focus upon the last few errors …but trying to prevent individual errors is like swatting mosquitoes…the only way to solve the mosquito problem is drain the swamps in which they breed. Reform of the system as a whole must be a continuous process whose aim is to contain whole groups of errors rather than single blunders.
To err is human: why failure is the only way to succeed as a

Error management has three components, says Reason:

  1. Reduction
  2. Containment
  3. Managing these so they remain effective

Its the third aspect that is most challenging according to Reason:

It is simply not possible to order in a package of Error Management measures, implement them and then expect them to work without further attention You cannot put them in place and then tick them off as another job completed. In an important sense, the process – the continuous striving toward system reform – is the product.

Further Reading on Safety (UPDATED)

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has commented that:

Human Factors training alone is not considered sufficient to minimise maintenance error. Most of the [contributing factors] can be attributed to the safety culture and associated behaviours of the organisation.

Two other books by James Reason are also worth attention:

Plus there is this presentation given to a Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Human Factors Group conference in 2006 on Risk in Safety-Critical Industries: Human Factors Risk CultureAmy Edmonson discusses psychological safety and openness:

This paper by the Health and Safety Laboratory is worth attention: High Reliability Organisations [HROs] and Mindful Leadership. Mindfulness is developed further in a paper by the Future Sky Safe EU research project and by Andrew Hopkins at the ANU. You may also be interested in these Aerossurance articles:

  • How To Develop Your Organisation’s Safety Culture positive advice on the value of safety leadership and an aviation example of safety leadership development.
  • How To Destroy Your Organisation’s Safety Culture a cautionary tale of how poor leadership and communications can undermine safety.
  • The Power of Safety Leadership: Paul O’Neill, Safety and Alcoa an example of the value of strong safety leadership and a clear safety vision.
  • Aircraft Maintenance: Going for Gold? looking at some lessons from championship athletes we should consider.
  • Additionally this 2006 review of the book Resilience Engineering by Hollnagel, Woods and Leveson, presented to the RAeS: Resilience Engineering - A Review
  • Plus this book review The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error by Dekker, also presented to the RAeS: The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error – A Review

A systems approach in healthcare:

UPDATE 26 April 2016:Chernobyl: 30 Years On – Lessons in Safety Culture

UPDATE 1o June 2016: This article is cited in Zero to HRO (High Reliability Organising): Abandoning Antediluvian Accident Theory

UPDATE 1 August 2016: We also recommend this article: Leicester’s lesson in leadership, published in The Psychologist.

UPDATE 10 August 2016: We also like this article by Suzette Woodward after she delivered the James Reason Lecture. She highlights:

  1. The first thing you can do [when investigating] is learn to listen
    • Listen to what people are saying without judgement
    • Listen to those that work there every day to find out what their lives are like
    • Listen to help you piece the bits of the jigsaw together so that they start to resemble a picture of sorts
  2. The second thing you can do is resist the pressure to find a simple explanation
  3. The third thing you can do: don’t be judgemental

She goes on:

To Err Is Human: Why Failure Is The Only Way To Succeed Quotes

  • Find the facts and evidence early
  • Without the need to find blame
  • Strengthen investigative capacity locally
  • Support people with national leadership
  • Provide a resource of skills and expertise
  • Act as a catalyst to promote a just and open culture

UPDATE 28 August 2016: We look at an EU research project that recently investigated the concepts of organisational safety intelligence (the safety information available) and executive safety wisdom (in using that to make safety decisions) by interviewing 16 senior industry executives: Safety Intelligence & Safety Wisdom. They defined these as:

Safety Intelligence the various sources of quantitative information an organisation may use to identify and assess various threats.


Safety Wisdom the judgement and decision-making of those in senior positions who must decide what to do to remain safe, and how they also use quantitative and qualitative information to support those decisions.

The topic of weak or ambiguous signals was discussed in this 2006 article: Facing Ambiguous Threats

UPDATE 8 February 2018: The UK Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) say: Future safety requires new approaches to people development They say that in the future rail system “there will be more complexity with more interlinked systems working together”:

…the role of many of our staff will change dramatically. The railway system of the future will require different skills from our workforce. There are likely to be fewer roles that require repetitive procedure following and more that require dynamic decision making, collaborating, working with data or providing a personalised service to customers. A seminal white paper on safety in air traffic control acknowledges the increasing difficulty of managing safety with rule compliance as the system complexity grows: ‘The consequences are that predictability is limited during both design and operation, and that it is impossible precisely to prescribe or even describe how work should be done.’ Since human performance cannot be completely prescribed, some degree of variability, flexibility or adaptivity is required for these future systems to work.

To Err Is Human: Why Failure Is The Only Way To Succeed Pdf

They recommend:

  1. Invest in manager skills to build a trusting relationship at all levels.
  2. Explore ‘work as done’ with an open mind.
  3. Shift focus of development activities onto ‘how to make things go right’ not just ‘how to avoid things going wrong’.
  4. Harness the power of ‘experts’ to help develop newly competent people within the context of normal work.
  5. Recognise that workers may know more about what it takes for the system to work safety and efficiently than your trainers, and managers.

UPDATE 12 February 2018: Safety blunders expose lab staff to potentially lethal diseases in UK. Tim Trevan, a former UN weapons inspector who now runs Chrome Biosafety and Biosecurity Consulting in Maryland, said safety breaches are often wrongly explained away as human error.

To err is human: why failure is the only way to succeed as a

Blaming it on human error doesn’t help you learn, it doesn’t help you improve. You have to look deeper and ask: ‘what are the environmental or cultural issues that are driving these things?’ There is nearly always something obvious that can be done to improve safety.

One way to address issues in the lab is you don’t wait for things to go wrong in a major way: you look at the near-misses. You actively scan your work on a daily or weekly basis for things that didn’t turn out as expected. If you do that, you get a better understanding of how things can go wrong.

Another approach is to ask people who are doing the work what is the most dangerous or difficult thing they do. Or what keeps them up at night. These are always good pointers to where, on a proactive basis, you should be addressing things that could go wrong.

UPDATE 13 February 2018: Considering human factors and developing systems-thinking behaviours to ensure patient safety

Medication errors are too frequently assigned as blame towards a single person. By considering these errors as a system-level failure, healthcare providers can take significant steps towards improving patient safety.

‘Systems thinking’ is a way of better understanding complex workplace issues; exploring relationships between system elements to inform efforts to improve; and realising that ‘cause and effect’ are not necessarily closely related in space or time.

This approach does not come naturally and is neither well-defined nor routinely practised…. When under stress, the human psyche often reduces complex reality to linear cause-and-effect chains.

Harm and safety are the results of complex systems, not single acts.

UPDATE 2 March 2018: An excellent initiative to create more Human Centred Design by use of a Human Hazard Analysis is described in Designing out human error

HeliOffshore, the global safety-focused organisation for the offshore helicopter industry, is exploring a fresh approach to reducing safety risk from aircraft maintenance. Recent trials with Airbus Helicopters and HeliOne show that this new direction has promise. The approach is based on an analysis of the aircraft design to identify where ‘error proofing’ features or other mitigations are most needed to support the maintenance engineer during critical maintenance tasks.

The trial identified the opportunity for some process improvements, and discussions facilitated by HeliOffshore are planned for early 2018.

To Err Is Human: Why Failure Is The Only Way To Succeed

UPDATE 11 April 2018:The Two Traits of the Best Problem-Solving Teams (emphasis added):

groups that performed well treated mistakes with curiosity and shared responsibility for the outcomes. As a result people could express themselves, their thoughts and ideas without fear of social retribution. The environment they created through their interaction was one of psychological safety.

Without behaviors that create and maintain a level of psychological safety in a group, people do not fully contribute — and when they don’t, the power of cognitive diversity is left unrealized. Furthermore, anxiety rises and defensive behavior prevails.

To Err Is Human: Why Failure Is The Only Way To Succeed

We choose our behavior. We need to be more curious, inquiring, experimental and nurturing. We need to stop being hierarchical, directive, controlling, and conforming.

We believe this applies to all teams not just those solving problems. Retrospective management application of culpability decisions aids have no more a place when trying to solve problems than they do in other work activities.

UPDATE 22 December 2019: Our article is also cited here Anatomy of errors: My patient story and Supporting Patient Safety Through Education and Training.

Maintenance Observation Program

Bew broswers for mac os x 10.6.8yellowstarter. Aerossurance worked with the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) to create a Maintenance Observation Program (MOP) requirement for their contractible BARSOHO offshore helicopter Safety Performance Requirements to help learning about routine maintenance and then to initiate safety improvements:

Aerossurance can provide practice guidance and specialist support to successfully implement a MOP.

Aerossurance was pleased to sponsor this Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Human Factors Group: Engineering conference on 12 May 2015 at Cranfield University: Human Factors in Engineering – the Next Generation

Aerossurance is pleased to be supporting the annual Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors’ (CIEHF) Human Factors in Aviation Safety Conference for the third year running. This year the conference takes place 13 to 14 November 2017 at the Hilton London Gatwick Airport, UK with the theme: How do we improve human performance in today’s aviation business?

Aerossurance is pleased to be both sponsoring and presenting at a Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Human Factors Group: Engineering seminar Maintenance Error: Are we learning? to be held on 9 May 2019 at Cranfield University.

Aerossurance is an Aberdeen based aviation consultancy. For advice you can trust on practical and effective safety management, contact us at: [email protected]

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