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Don’t be afraid to mess up. Don’t mess up on purpose, but don’t let fear of making mistakes intimidate you.


A key personality trait you can develop is resilience. You can only learn it by practice, and you will have lots of practice, because indeed you will mess up. Just don’t let it get to you. Bounce back.




I messed up in school, getting a D in my junior level Electricity and Magnetism course at Columbia. That was a monumental mess up. I recovered.


A few years later, I remember walking away from the first big lecture I gave at Berkeley knowing that I had badly messed up. But now, many decades later, I think I am the only person in the world who remembers.




When you mess up, admit your mistake. Pledge to yourself that you will learn, and greatly reduce the likelihood of a similar mess up in the future.


When I was a graduate student, I dropped a $10,000 photomultiplier tube, and thought that my career as an experimental physicist had just ended. When my mentor Luis Alvarez heard about it, he made a point of seeking me out. He looked me in the eye, held out his hand, and said “Congratulations!” I was completely mystified. He explained that the fact that I was being allowed by the other research members to handle such a device meant that I had earned their respect and their trust, and that’s what his congratulations were for. If you handle big delicate equipment, sometimes you will drop it. Try not to. But far worse would be to stay away out of fear of messing up.


Luis W. Alvarez美国物理学家