Sometimes being wrong is a lot better than being right
Being wrong is one of the greatest opportunities you will ever be given to affect change, impact your own life and completely shift gears. Being wrong means that you have the opportunity to reach your next level. The problem is, when that opportunity comes along, we rarely take it.
Instead, we try to find a way to weasel out of it and somehow be right. Because being right is the only important thing. Being right matters more than anything else.
It’s not a constructive reaction, but it’s a pretty normal and unsurprising one. Nobody wants to get it wrong, nobody wants to look like a fool. I’ve found myself digging in my heels, long after I’ve realised I’m completely wrong and defending a position that I know has zero basis. It’s a human reaction.
There’s an Oatmeal post about this that a lot of people have been sharing:
This is a comic about the backfire effect.theoatmeal.com
It’s worth a read. It goes into the how and the way of our defensive reactions to having our ideas challenged, and it’s a great way to understand how our shields go up and we get ready for a fight.
There’s a few issues with this defensive reaction
- When we can’t admit that we’re wrong, we don’t engage, change and collaborate on constructive and positive changes in the world around us. It’s where we get bipartisan stupidity and dumb health care legislation.
- When we can’t admit that we’re wrong, we also don’t take the opportunity to improve on ourselves and build up a better version of who we are. Instead, we defend the last version, refuse to install the latest update and eventually become incompatible with the world and the people around us.
The easy way out of this? It doesn’t exist.
I don’t have an answer to how to get better at just admitting you’re wrong. I don’t think anyone does have that answer. It’s not something that we can just shift and change around. But it is a habit we can work on building up. The more often you can look someone in the eye and say “Well fuck, I got that one wrong” the easier it’ll be the next time.
At the end of the day, I’m not asking anyone to give up on their tightly held positions or beliefs. I’m asking them to admit they’re wrong when they know they’re wrong. That certainly doesn’t mean we have to crap out and not argue about the shit that matters to us. Now, more than ever, that kind of ideological fortitude is imperative. When it comes to protecting folks’ lives, rights, health and safety.
But when we’re wrong, when we’re presented with an argument that we know is right, it’s even more vital that we accept that.
Sometimes being wrong is awesome. Because we can take that chance to change.