What’s the difference between a mistake and a blunder?
A few months ago I decided to drill a hole in the wall to hang a picture. The walls of our house are over a hundred years old, and consist of a mix of plaster, bricks, and small pebbles.
At a certain point, my drill hit a hard stone, got stuck, and my neat little hole got completely ruined. I made a mistake.
Instead of acknowledging that I didn’t have the right tools for the job, I felt unlucky.
Thus, I decided to try to drill a new hole with the same ineffective tools: I repeated this approach several times, thus slowly transforming a large piece of a once pristine wall into a bizarre mosaic resembling a war-damaged heap of rubble.
No picture was big enough to cover the disaster I had created. This is the very definition of a blunder.
Lesson learned: When you try to correct a small mistake by doubling down, the invariable result is an epic blunder.
This is very common in business too: We double down on failed products, wrong hires, or disastrous acquisitions.
It’s important to avoid making mistakes.
It’s more important to know when to change direction and avoid turning small mistakes into huge blunders.
The difference between a mistake and a blunder is to know when to quit.