Mental Model Mondays #2: Unforced Errors

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Hi friends, hope we’re keeping well.

This week’s mental model that I’ll share with you all is a concept called an unforced error.

This is a pretty simple and straightforward model, and shouldn’t be anything too difficult to understand.


Basically, an unforced error is a mistake (that mainly occurs in sports, like tennis), that is made because of one’s own failure, rather than because of the skill of their opponent/adversaries.

Unforced errors are used to describe mistakes that you solely made, which have now led you into an undesirable situation.

🧐Examples 🧐

-In tennis, an unforced error would be a missed shot or lost point that is entirely the fault of the player’s own blunder, rather than because of the opponent’s skill.

-When I have a school project that’s due in 2 weeks and spend the entirety of those 2 weeks procrastinating, playing games, and just doing everything that isn’t to do with the project and eventually get an F in it, that can also be considered as an unforced error. I have no one else to blame but me for procrastinating, since all the other conditions were met (I had sufficient time, I had necessary equipment and resources, I understood all the project’s requirements etc).

-Similarly in chess, losing a major piece like a knight, bishop, or even a queen, is often due to unforced errors, I.e it was entirely your own fault for making such a blunder. The layout and positions of the board was right in front of you, and yet you missed that your piece could’ve been taken for free. That is entirely on your end, and is an unforced error


The first step to making less unforced errors is to just recognise how they occur first-from our own weaknesses.

Have more humility and less entitlement. Accept that sometimes things go wrong because it is your fault, and that it’s okay as long as you learn from it. It’s pointless (and more often than not, harmful) when you keep putting the blame on others/your surroundings.

Practising humility is often the best way going forward.

Cool, that’ll probably do it for this MMM post. I’ll hopefully see you guys in another post, stay safe 👋🏼

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