It’s Ok To Be Wrong
January 4, 2022
One of the common mistakes I committed in my younger days was to focus too much on being right all the time.
- A colleague would point out an issue in my proposal, and I would work extra hard at trying to prove him wrong.
- A senior colleague would want something to be done in a certain way that did not agree with my approach, and I would go all out to establish why my approach was better.
- My wife would point out something wrong I did, and I would be all indignant and try to justify my actions at the altar or righteousness.
I would repeatedly look to prove myself right instead of focusing on achieving the best outcome.
Why was I so obsessed with trying to be right all the time?
Because I attached being right to my self-worth.
“If I was not right, then what was the inference? That I was wrong. You win only when you are not wrong. Therefore, If I had to win, I could not be wrong !!”- This is how my mind worked.
I had so much of my identity wrapped up in trying to be right that I became blind to the possibility that alternative views could be better and beneficial or that I could indeed be wrong. Instead of thinking about the best outcome possible in any situation, I was obsessed with achieving the best outcome for myself based on my actions.
Thankfully a mentor of mine saw this self-sabotaging streak in me and suggested a slight tweak to how I approached any situation. He conveyed this message to me was through a Metaphor of Chess.
In Chess, there is the idea of a Gambit Move which means sacrificing a pawn or a minor piece to gain an advantage and win the game. A win is when the organization benefits from what someone does.
“Think of accepting that you may not be right all the time as a gambit, a small sacrifice you are making to win the game. So Instead of focussing on how to be right all the time, give some space to be wrong also and focus on what is the best outcome for the organization. Once you allow the possibility of being wrong and focus on what is best for the organization, you will win more often. That is what everyone cares about !!”
Experience is a great leveler. A few hard knocks on my head have taught me that the more I give up trying to be right, the better the outcomes get for everyone.
This is today an important mental model for me.
Whether it is an organizational setting or a personal setting, Instead of focussing on proving yourself right all the time, focus on what is good for the situation. Then, you will instinctively know what the right thing to do is.
You will realize that sometimes, it ok to be wrong !!