Yesterday I read a great piece by Kristin Wong about some of the challenges we face with admitting when we’re wrong (you can find it here). The gist of the piece was simply that often we see admitting wrong-doing or saying “Sorry” as a sign of weakness, and so we don’t want to go in that direction, particularly if it makes us look like we are less capable than we truly are.
And yet, admitting we’re wrong, at least in my opinion, actually shows that we are much stronger than simply showcasing our “rightness.”
Why are we more likely to love being “right” than welcome being “wrong?” A large part of that could be because we are often taught from a young age that being right is more valuable than being wrong, and we associate a “right” answer with completion, competence, and “correctness.” Of course, being “right” often means less learning has, or will, take place than when we are wrong. By being wrong, and owning it, we also own the challenge of figuring out what went wrong in our thinking or doing, and therefore can draw up additional questions that will help to take our learning further than it could go otherwise.
The key reflection point for me in the article was that, if anything, our efforts to lead and learn become much weaker when we shift away from welcoming being wrong. As I thought back on my career so far, I smiled that I’ve grown to welcome mistakes and failures much more, particularly over the last five years, than I did earlier in my career. So, in some small way, being wrong is truly right, and being right, well, you get the idea.