It’s OK to be wrong
By Stephen Carter
Our society needs to overcome a fear that is dragging us down, the fear of being wrong.
We live in a world where no one wants to be wrong, ever. Obviously this is impossible. The bad thing is that even when we are wrong, many can’t admit it. Think about it, have you ever heard a politician admit that they were wrong? It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does people line up to crucify them for it. Gonna be an awful lot of broken glass around here.
This does not bode well for society because in order to advance, you must learn from your mistakes, and if we are unwilling to recognize or admit that we have been wrong, there can be no progress. It especially doesn’t help when not only do we fear being wrong and owning up to it, but we make others fear it as well.
The hallmark of a strong individual is not in being flawless and passing blame, but in being able to admit when they are wrong and taking the necessary actions to correct the problem. These are our greatest innovators, thinkers, and leaders. People who are not only able to realize and admit when they are wrong, but who are also always mindful that they could be wrong about something are the ones who lead us into prosperity. No true advancement ever came from being wrong but sticking with your guns anyways. That’s called ego, and it is a major bane on our society.
We have a political discourse where people are constantly going at it and no one is willing to consider that they could be wrong about something, that they could have bad information, or could have drawn the wrong conclusions. When facts are presented to people, instead of examining them, they just double down in their beliefs. Considering the amount of hostility that comes with all of this, it isn’t that surprising that this happens. When a person admits they’re wrong, often times they are ridiculed or called an idiot. To many, being wrong is what amounts to being a bad person, and this is something we direly need to change.
We as a society need to often consider that we could be wrong. We need to challenge what we think we know, and we need to understand that this isn’t a bad thing, but very much a good thing, a march towards progress. In doing so, we have to have empathy. We are all wrong at various times and no one wants to feel bad about it, so we need to be understanding when other people are wrong and encourage them in a positive way to understand that it was a mistake, and we all make mistakes. There’s no need to be rude or mean about it, even in the face of extreme ignorance. We want people to feel good about being wrong in that it is not a bad thing, but a learning opportunity.
We also need politicians that don’t feel like it will be the end of their career to admit that they made a mistake. Do you want a person who is willing to admit they were wrong and change towards the right direction, or do you want someone who will keep it full steam ahead and never even remotely admit they’re wrong? This is very dangerous for our society. A strong and caring leader will admit to their flaws and mistakes, and we need to encourage this by looking inward at ourselves. It’s also perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know.”
The next time you’re having a conversation with someone, in a meeting at work, in class at school, at a city hall meeting, etc don’t be afraid of being involved in the discourse and saying the wrong answer or even not knowing, be afraid of not having the opportunity of knowing.
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