“Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.” – George Soros
In all truth, I’d be remiss in my duty if I failed to write an article addressing the subject which I’m about to address. The proceeding subject matter is very vital because it’s one stumbling block that has stopped many would-be successful entrepreneurs or many would-be successful people altogether. To what exactly am I referring? It is the need to be right all of the time.
If there’s one thing I learned that helped me it was coming to the realization that I am never going to know everything. Before accepting that truth, my life was on a downward spiral. I’ve also witnessed many others who’s lived were going nowhere fast because they also couldn’t accept the fact that being right isn’t necessarily important. I used to devote a lot of my time trying to prove to people how smart I thought I was — how much I knew. I’d engage in these silly debates always having to prove how right I am. But something dawned on me, and that is: the entire time I spent engaging in this buffoonery, my quality of life wasn’t improving not one bit. I also noticed something else. During this time, I’d stop studying as I would usually do.
After noticing my own mistake of desiring to be right all the time, I also began to observe others who behaved in the same manner. I saw that to a lot of people, being right was more important than being successful. That state of mind is very detrimental to all success not only in a monetary sense, but in every aspect of life. Why? Because for one, no matter how learned you are as a person, you’re gonna be wrong a lot on your path to success. There’s no avoiding that. However, it is what you learn as a result of being wrong that matters. Having to be always right is also detrimental because it takes away the willingness to learn. If you’re always right as in having a belief that you know everything, what reason do you have to learn anything else?
An unwillingness to learn has to rank as one of the main reasons people fail at anything. We live in a world that is constantly changing and those who refuse to learn will eventually be left behind. Even if our world weren’t constantly changing, there’s still a ton of knowledge available, so much that a person couldn’t learn even 0.01% of of everything there is to know.
But aside from that, here’s why always having to be right is detrimental. If you happen to be an entrepreneur and you decided to make changes in your business operations. Next thing you know, after a substantial amount of time has passed, those changes are hurting your business. Sales are down, staff is unhappy, customers are dissatisfied, etc. But you, having to be right, decide that your decision is correct and you’re going to stick to it despite the evidence in front of you proving the contrary. You see your business falling apart in front of you but instead of admitting that you made a bad decision, you somehow believe that the tide will change, resulting in your decision being right. But it doesn’t pan out that way and you find yourself hanging up the “closed for business” sign.
You can take that example and apply it to every area of life and you’ll see a similar outcome as a result of similar actions. Now the question that may arise is “why do people have a need to be always right?” My personal theory is that ego has a lot to do with it. In American society, if a person is wrong about something, that person is often shamed and ridiculed. Telling someone that it’s okay to be wrong isn’t practiced in America. As early as childhood, look what happens in school when the teacher calls on a student to answer a question. If the student answers incorrectly, the rest of the class laughs at that student. Unfortunately, that way of being doesn’t change as we get older. So, in order to avoid being viewed as stupid, a person will argue to the end to prove how right they are not only to escape ridicule but also to satisfy their ego. We are not taught that being wrong is normal and a learning opportunity. To learn that, you usually have to stray away from the majority of people.
If you’re wrong, simply admit it and begin to work towards a solution. Trust me, it’ll save you from the pain and heartache you’d endure by continuing down the false path. Better yet, just admit upfront that you may not know a thing. Unfortunately, that may come off to you as admitting that you’re dumb but that isn’t true. Doing that would be admitting that you can learn a thing or two. If you aren’t convinced, just study the quotes given by some of the world’s most successful people and you will see one quote that every last one of them has stated and that quote is always some variation of that person saying that it was their mistakes which taught them what they needed to know in order to become successful. It wasn’t their desire to be right that taught them, it was their being wrong, admitting it and taking corrective action.
On one final note — this is why the world is in such shambles today because everyone has to be right. No one is willing to admit to being wrong, instead and are willing to resort to violence to prove that they’re right which has resulted in lots of death and a stagnation of human progress. The biggest offender in this category are by far religious people.
Conclusion: Pay attention and you will notice that those who attempt to shame another person for being wrong about a thing are usually loser type of people themselves. People that are success oriented understand that being wrong is a part of life and that there is nothing shameful about it. The only shame in being wrong is not admitting to it, thereby continuing down a false path.