We spend so much of our lives being right that, I wonder if, we’re ill-prepared for being wrong.
Since childhood, we’ve been inured that being right is more acceptable than being wrong. Being wrong feels so unpleasant—repulsive even—that we instill a series of strategies to salvage ourselves when we are exposed as being wrong. We learn to trip from our forked tongues explanations, justifications, excuses, and blames for our errors and oversights.
What’s worse, we develop a deep-seated impulse to shirk responsibility and accountability for our actions. We become loath to change our beliefs or behaviors because change takes effort. We envisage change as a challenge to our identity. In the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “People who are right a lot listen a lot, and they change their mind a lot. They wake up and re-analyze things and change their mind. If you don’t change your mind frequently, you’re going to be wrong a lot. People who are right a lot want to disconfirm their fundamental biases.”
Idea for Impact: What’s lost in all this is that being wrong is not only a central feature of being human. It’s one of the most potent ways of learning. Admitting we were wrong—and conceding we’ll be wrong again—can be so liberating and welcoming.