I’m definitely someone who has on many occasions argued something to death just to be right and one of the joys I’ve discovered over the past few years is that of being wrong.
This is probably obvious to most people but I had to figure it out so I thought I’d share it in case it’s helpful for anyone else.
If I am right all of the time then I can not learn anything because I already have all of the answers. Whereas every time I am wrong I learn something new.
The thing that has got in the way of this is for me is a willingness to be wrong. If I actually want to be wrong then when I am, it feels amazing to have changed my mind and learn something new.
When I play chess I mostly lose and this used to get me frustrated because I was craving the endorphin hit of winning. Then I reframed it in my head as a learning experience and found losing quite enjoyable as long as I took something away that I didn’t know before.
How do you get good at chess? By losing a lot.
I’m still not good at chess but that’s okay because I still lose most of the time 😜.
Clearly wanting to be right all the time is an insecurity, worrying about what people might think if I am wrong. And with experience comes a reassurance that being wrong doesn’t mean that I’m not good at what I do. In fact, being wrong is an essential part of teamwork and leadership. A willingness to be wrong makes for a better listener and therefore leads to better decisions and better outcomes.
Creating space for challenge
Here’s a fear I get sometimes:
If it doesn’t go down the path I want now then it will be like this forever and go completely off course.
At Ticket Tailor we are actively creating an environment that is both open and challenging. Knowing that there are various spaces to discuss something is very relaxing. I find myself more willing to be wrong when I know that a particular meeting isn’t the only opportunity to figure something out.
We want to create the spaces for people to be able to think about something in the way they find most productive.
Honing the craft of articulation
Having worked on my own for a large part of my career, being able to articulate thoughts in language is something I’ve struggled with a lot.
Articulation is something I have worked on over the years as it is obviously an essential for sharing an understanding of something with others.
Without a shared understanding there is no possibility of working out what’s right or wrong, just confusion and frustration.
Throwing work away
I find it especially hard to be wrong when I’m deeply invested in a particular path. If I have spent a long time working on something which is based on an assumption, and that assumption gets challenged, then it is difficult to even consider stepping back through the cognitive steps, let alone come to terms with the fact that hours of work may need to be thrown away.
If it turns out that my assumption was wrong then it’s good to find out sooner rather than later and there is always the option to lean on a healthy compromise of done vs perfect.
Am I right?
I’m definitely not perfect at being willing to be wrong and my ego still gets in the way.
The trigger I look for is this:
I really want to convince other people that I am right.
And then I try to reframe the conversation and think this instead:
I wonder what I’m wrong about in this.