Why Is It So Hard To Be Wrong?

Here’s the scenario. You’ve been working on an important project day and night for a week. Before turning it in, you meticulously review every detail. Your heart is beating with anxiety as you hand over the project only to hear, “This isn’t what I asked for. This is wrong!” A true knife-in-the-gut moment,
right?

People will do just about anything these days not to be proven wrong. I get it, who can afford the risk of being wrong?

Jobs are competitive and hard to come by. Fierce competition and a learning curve is created by each new generation in the workforce bringing something different the previous generation’s struggle to understand.

But is it really that bad to be wrong?

Think back on times you were wrong about something. Let’s skip the little ones like a miscalculation in a recipe (yuck) or the printer-ink-new carpet debacle. It’s the biggies I’m interested in. Things like, inappropriately trusting someone with confidential information and it ended badly. Or, providing your boss with a very important spreadsheet you didn’t take the time to proof, costing the company tens of thousands of dollars.

What happened next?

What happened next is where we start to decide whether or not it is ever okay to be wrong. Did your action result in something fatal, life altering, debilitating or irreversible? If that answer is yes, then I am terribly sorry as sometimes things do go badly. However, chances are you will fall into the category of people who will do just about anything not to be wrong. My advice to you, regardless of your history, is to keep taking chances.

Here’s the deal: there are really, very, very few of you with a history of catastrophic results from bad decisions. So, be honest. What really happened next? Chances are something happened. It might have been embarrassing, frustrating or self-deprecating. But was it catastrophic?

So, if being wrong generally results in temporary discomfort and often serves to teach us something new, then why are we so afraid to be wrong?
Just for the record, we are talking about decisions that are wrong, not stupid. There is a big distinction.

A decision that proves to be wrong is often given a lot of thought. It is done with information and there is the intent of a good outcome. A stupid decision is generally not thought through and is guided by little to no solid information.

My theory is that many of us are stuck in a pattern of fear based on the less than 1 percent chance of a catastrophic result. Look around you. Look behind you in history. Those who ultimately got it right got it wrong 100 times first.

Today, take a chance at being wrong. Put yourself out there and be bold.
Don’t be afraid of being wrong. Be afraid of being the person afraid of being wrong.

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