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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Contemplations on failing and being wrong

The question I ask myself today: “How do I deal with failing and being wrong?” Why do I freak out at the possibility that I’ve done something wrong? Many messages tell us we need to be right all the time, that failure is bad. Wrong message. Attachment to my own rightness misses the point of being human. It can be very dangerous to be convinced that you’re on the right side of things. Do not stop entertaining the possibility that you are wrong - being wrong entailing the opportunity to learn about your preconceptions, your blind spots, areas you can improve in, or areas where others are just better or more knowledgeable. It happens.
Thinking you are right and that you know everything might make u feel smart and safe, but when you pretend to know everything you miss opportunities to learn. I’d like to replace Descartes’: “I think, therefore I am” with Augustine’s “I err, therefore I am”. When you’re convinced of your rightness you’re convinced that your beliefs perfectly reflect reality. How about other beliefs and realities?
How do you explain all those people who disagree with you? We often assume they’re ignorant, not as smart as we are, or we suspect malicious intent. How about “I don’t know” or “Maybe I’m wrong” or “Maybe there are more perspectives than just mine”. When you acknowledge your own limitations, others can do the same. Want to try it?

1 comment:

  1. Great piece, Carolien!

    I've been right thousands of times in my life, but I also have been wrong probably an equal number of times. Being right sometimes massages my ego...being wrong allows me to learn something and move forward.

    We should alway enjoy the moments that we've made that we've right decision, but we should not always despair those times when the wrong choice was made. As you said, being wrong also is part of the human condition.

    It's, of course, very hard because society does not usually reward you being wrong. The key: We do need to understand our limitations to let others see us in a more authentic and real light.

    I hope you have a resilient day.

    Steve Beseke
    http://resiliencyfirst.com

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