Never Make the Same Mistake Twice [AAR]
Never Make the Same Mistake Twice
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 9
Written by: Ben Meer | October 9, 2022
Get better every day—by learning from your wins and losses—with an After-Action Review.
A System For
Never Making the Same Mistake Twice
Imagine how evolved you'd be if you learned from your mistakes.
Most people don't because it can be uncomfortable.
Good thing you don't want to be like most people.
INTRODUCING AFTER-ACTION REVIEWS
In 60 seconds, you'll know the framework to learn from your losses (and wins).
The method is used by U.S. Armed Forces and Fortune 500 companies.
It's called an After-Action Review (AAR).
In every edition of All Systems Go, I assess the featured product across four superhuman dimensions: impact, setup, maintenance, and aesthetics.
Unlike your typical product review, I focus on factors that influence personal growth. Get to know the evaluation system.
The gift of an AAR:
Stop beating yourself up.
Switch to a non-emotional discussion of improvement opportunities.
I've found that establishing clear next steps—to avoid repeating the mistake—always brings me some mental relief.
AAR is a 4-question framework.
Let's dive in…
1. What did I intend to accomplish?
Example: Wish John a happy birthday (to show him that he's important to me).
2. What happened?
Example: I forgot to wish John a happy birthday.
3. Why did it happen that way?
Seek the root cause, not the proximate.
Proximate = what immediately caused something to happen. Root = the real reason something happened.
- Proximate: It was a crazy day at school; I forgot.
- Root: I didn't have a reminder.
4. What will I do next time for a better outcome (or to repeat my success)?
Example: Create a recurring calendar invite for John's birthday (+ other friends/family/colleagues).
Won't happen again.
Now some After-Action Review tips:
- Do an AAR for any action (win or loss). Normalize learning from wins AND losses.
- Complete individually or as a team.
- Focus on the problem, not the person.
- Journal your reflections. I've titled my notebook, ‘Learned.'
Remembering to do an AAR can be challenging (which is why it scores a relatively low 7 for Maintenance).
Either 1) build a daily AAR into your evening routine or 2) do an AAR immediately after you've made a known mistake.
My favorite notebook and pen for AARs (again, both are optional):
- Moleskin: Quality thick paper, minimalist design, durable cover
- Pilot V7 Pen: Patented fine tip precision, perfect balance, retractable, smooth roll
You can also type your AAR into a digital notebook. But studies show writing is more effective for learning and remembering.
BRINGING IT HOME
TL;DR for After-Action Reviews:
- What did I intend to accomplish?
- What happened?
- Why did it happen that way?
- What will I do next time for a better outcome (or to repeat my success)?
Learning from mistakes separates the best from the rest.
All systems go,
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