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The Need to be Right


Photo By Dave Chawla

“For those who must always be right, the greatest predicament in which they will find themselves is how will they know when they are not.”

Each time I write these posts, there is a distinct effort not to come across as an expert or authority on those views and concepts. Great care is taken to express thoughts which can and should be questioned as well as an invitation to make comments which will perhaps differ. If I am simply “preaching to the choir” then when will I ever be presented with opportunities to learn? I never want to have the feeling, or for that matter, come close to having a constant need to be right. If I ever have the point of view that I must or always am, then how will I ever know when I am not?

No one wants to be wrong; even the word “wrong” itself denotes a negative stigma with which none want to be associated. No person aspires to be incorrect whether it is a test in school or playing a simple game. We even grow up with the concept that there is either right or wrong and nothing in between. Simply saying the words, “I am wrong” can leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the one who is uttering it.

However, a constant need to be right, in truth, may actually be a exposing a lack of personal self-confidence. Although this may appear to be a contradictory conclusion, the pervasive feeling of needing to be right tells quite a different story. Being right in one’s own mind, conveys comfort and safety. But always needing to be right will conjure up a sense of dominance over others and feelings of superiority, culminating in arrogant conduct. Because the need is ever-present, it eventually leads to self-importance and narcissistic behaviors.

Fortunately, there have been many videos, memes, and other expressions of late all over social media, which talk about the benefits of making a mistake, substituting more positive words which point to opportunities and attaining greater heights by those learning experiences. Whether it is Michael Jordan listing how many shots he missed or Denzel Washington talking about flunking college, all of these “wrong” moments were turned into opportunities to become victorious.

There is nothing wrong with being wrong! Admitting to making a mistake has many positive qualities. It shows honesty, a sense of fairness, a willingness to learn, and much more. Typically, mistakes are not done on purpose so forgiving ourselves should not be an issue. Effective leadership does not demand a constant need to be right and a truly great leader at times will own up to the mistakes of his or her team when the blame should squarely be placed on another.

“Incorrect” should be taught as moving “in” the direction of being “correct”. Mistakes are now being designated as new learning opportunities. Stretching our limits and reaching greater heights is not something accomplished by sitting in a rocking chair. It involves work, determination, great amounts of effort and an understanding that with every attempt there is a possibility of failure. Fortunately, “failure” too, is now considered a learning opportunity. The only way we can grow is to get out of our comfort zone and by its own proclamation, we will be uncomfortable.

The next time you find yourself wrong about something, transform that moment into motivation for learning and growth. Embrace that time so it becomes a memory of discovery and wisdom. We can learn to change the way we think about difficult moments from our past which will also help us to heal from those memories as well.

As always, I look forward to your comments; even those which tell me I am wrong.

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