It’s good to be wrong. Getting comfortable with being wrong is the secret to a lot of things. It’s a required skill for living and working with others.
Most of us yell, insist, dig in, run, shut down, do research, or make up stuff to avoid being wrong.
It’s normal to be scared of doing it wrong. But always needing to be right is trouble. In order to maintain a universe where you are perfect, and always right, you have to make your world very tiny, so that you can control it. It ends up being a prison that you have furnished exactly the way you want it. You also have to ignore anything that contradicts your personal view. This level of denial is achievable only by members of Congress, or massive quantities of controlled substances.
It’s really much easier just to be wrong. You have way more fun and get more done in the long run (even if the short run still kinda sucks).
Wrong is an illusion. So is right. Wrong and right are usually answers to test questions that have absolutely no bearing on reality. What’s 3 + 3? Okay, six. If you have 3 children and 3 ice cream cones, how many do you have? Three children.
Wrong and right, and good and bad, are just arbitrary judgements we put on things to sort them according to what we want or don’t want. It’s good to know what you want. It’s even better to be able to put all that stuff down, and just see what’s there. That’s when things really get interesting.
The way we work, where we work, how we think about using space, how we design organizations and build communities, are all changing. If we can put down our assumptions and learn to see what’s there now, then we can start to imagine what’s possible.
Wrong reduces drama. When people are focused on being right, discussions become contests of gotcha and score keeping. Pretty soon, people argue about how they’re arguing. Then someone accuses somebody of offending them. Then everyone takes sides, and nothing gets done.
When I’m especially in love with my opinions or perspective and start trying to control stuff, a friend likes to ask me: “How’s that working for you?”
If you just start out with, “Hmmm, I made a mistake, I was wrong,” there’s really nothing left to get excited about. Except how to solve the problem, or ask the next question.
Wrong moves things forward. Right is a dead end. Wrong is where you figure out what doesn’t work. Wrong is where you get to wonder. Wrong is where you start to see things in a new way. Wrong is the foundation for innovation, for invention, for finding out. Wrong is an adventure.
Curiosity is the gateway to wrong. Most people feel uncomfortable being wrong. I do. I guess I’d rather be wrong than eat brussels sprouts. But I don’t wake up in the morning thinking, I wonder what I can get completely wrong today?
Instead, I try to be curious. I just put down the whole wrong/right dichotomy and try to see clearly. One of my favorite quotes is by the scientist Isaac Asimov. “The most exciting phrase . . . the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny….’”
So when I don’t have the nerve to fail or be wrong, I try to see things in a new way. I start asking questions, like:
What if being wrong is the right approach?