3 Expressions you get wrong (and what it says about you)

Successful CEOs and I have one thing in common: we believe mistakes make for great learning opportunities.

There are many kinds of mistakes and they are categorized into four broad types. You can read more about them herebut I want to focus on my favourite one.

Yes, I have a favourite kind of mistake. It’s called a “systematic error”.

A “systematic error” happens when we observe or measure things incorrectly and use that mistaken information to make decisions. The reason this is my favourite kind of mistake is because it can be overcome by asking for feedback and with a little introspection.

Challenging our biases and incorrect beliefs strengthens our ability to make good decisions for ourselves.

In order to make a big change we should start small. So, here are three common expressions worth challenging:


“Comparing apples to oranges”


For many this expression means comparing two things that are so different they’re incomparable. But, apples and oranges have many similarities – they’re both fruits, have seeds, make delicious juices, grow on trees and so on. This shows that it’s easier for us to see our few and obvious differences rather than our many similarities.


“Pull yourself up by the bootstraps”

Equally impossible – fictional character, Baron Munchausen, pulls himself and his horse out of a swamp by his pigtail

The original expression is “pull oneself over a fence by one’s bootstraps” meant to illustrate an absurdly impossible scenario. Today we accept this unreal scenario by aligning it with entrepreneurship and celebrating people who claim to have done it. Since the laws of physics have not yet changed, the impossible continues to be impossible. Even a self-made person has benefited from something another person has created whether it’s policy, product or anything in between.


“Great minds think alike”


We want to believe that we are intelligent and the people who share our opinions are wise for doing so. Some of us need to use the addition “fools rarely differ” to bring us back to reality. By some of us, I mean the people who launched Colgate Kitchen Entrees.

Do you have any long-held beliefs deserving of a second look? Leave a comment below or tweet @to_jlawrence.