Only Human?

February 15th, 2017 by Patricia Jehle Leave a reply »

A movie and a lot of meetings

Last week I watched Sully and it, along with a few meetings on the “Internet of Things” and “Industry 4.0”, have got me to thinking.


Only Human?

What separates us, not just from the other biological creatures on Earth, but from the computers and smart devices, and robots that we make?

And you?

Do you learn from your failures? Do you have values? Do you change and are you flexible enough for that change?



The movie is based on a true story of a pilot who landed on the Hudson River and saved all lives in the plane. But the issue was that the computer simulations said that he could have safely landed back at the airport. An interesting thought. But the computers had not factored in the Human Element. There was no communication or hesitation for thinking calculated into the situation- if one added a mere 30 seconds of communication to the tower and with the co-pilot the simulations showed that there would have been a deadly crash. Human thought and intuition saved all those lives. We are still very much needed, especially in such situations. But we are still human.


Fear of Failure?

I live in a fear-of-failure culture. It is hard for people around me to make, admit and accept failures. But we must make failures; after all, we are human. But that also is an issue in the young people growing up in my culture. Failure is looked on as almost a tragic thing, instead an opportunity for learning and change.


Perception is everything

It really depends on how we look at things- our perception of the failure is key- Thomas Edison said this of his some 9,000 mistakes before making a light bulb: “I know several thousand things that won’t work!” thus, he kept learning—and kept trying. Look what happened to him.


To err is human

We all make mistakes of several kinds under two main categories, deliberate and inadvertent:


So, what should we do when we make a mistake?


  • We need to get curious about those mistakes
  • We need to (perhaps) be coached regarding our mistakes and how to move on
  • We need to deal with our emotions about the mistakes we make
  • We need to create working and living cultures where mistakes are okay and we can thus learn from them


Maybe starting from the last sentence would be best. I said that I live in a fear-of-failure culture. We have to begin there and remember that that very aspect of making mistakes and feeling something (like remorse) is what makes us human.


Think in Group Think

Perhaps our overly individualistic culture is part of the problem. Centuries ago we would have thought much more in a communal fashion, so much so that an individual could not have “failed” and a family or community would have failed together. If we took more responsibility for each others’ mistakes, we might learn more readily from mistakes.


Feel the Pain

We need to admit the emotions we feel when we fail and reflect on them, work through them, not ignore them or pretend they are not there. We need to let ourselves feel that pain.


Maybe we need coaching

Perhaps a non-involved party can help you work through the mistake and learn from it. When someone from outside of the problem comes along and helps you see the issue for what it is, it becomes smaller and more easily solved or – when completed – not something you need to repeat. After all, that is one of the big goals: to learn so as not to make the same mistake over and over again. Reflection is very important and a coach can help with that.


No denying, instead- be curious

But most of all, we need to become much more curious

In this case, curiosity will not kill the proverbial cat, but will allow you to get on with life and work. When we start to take a serious look at our mistake, we can learn from them and not fall into the trap of repeating the mistakes again.


Patricia Jehle





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