Being Wrong

We often find it difficult to change our minds. We all have our beliefs and worldviews based on our conditioning and learning, which we may hold onto. As we get older, some of those beliefs might stay with us, while others might evolve. We might even have preconceived notions about things. Or we make assumptions based on what we know.

Regardless, if we are the same person from 5, 10, or even 20 years ago, then chances are we haven’t sought to change, and perhaps a deep reflection in solitude is in order.

Here are some reasons why we may hold onto things and are unwilling to be wrong:

We don’t change our minds often, for a variety of reasons. We take the things we know as irrefutable truths. We become set in our ways. We are, after all, creatures of habit. Besides, change is difficult. It’s comfortable (and convenient) to keep the status quo rather than challenge it, because then we might have to admit we are wrong. We take it personally and upon ourselves, rather than distancing ourselves from the situation at hand and thinking things through objectively.

I penned earlier:

When we talk, we talk to confirm our own biases rather than looking to be disproven or challenged by others. Where is true learning in that? It’s easy to be comfortable with one’s own views and to keep holding to that and finding opportunities to reaffirm them. When others share an alternate view, we are quick to defend ourselves, but is that keeping an open mind?

It’s hard to change our mind when our salary depends on us not doing so, even when we believe it’s the right thing to do. We don’t think about the long-term effects of doing things, which comes at a cost of getting “results” in the short-term, and to keep doing what we have always done.

Those invested in fossil fuels perfectly illustrate this example. Rather than simply continuing to do what they have always done, they could be true pioneers by investing in clean, renewable energy for the long term.

We all learn things sooner or later, either through choice (proactive) or suffering (reactive). Better that we learn it willingly.

On a more personal note, nothing I write on this weblog is set in stone. These are merely my thoughts (and my ongoing learning) at a particular time and space, which may evolve later on based on new-to-me insights and reflections.

Changing your mind is not a sign of weakness, as the world might have you believe; it’s anything but. It’s also not an admittance that we are wrong. On the contrary, it only shows our willingness to be wiser. It is evidence of our proactivity when it comes to constant learning.

Never be afraid to change your mind. It’s okay to have strong opinions as long as we remain detached to them. As long as we’re willing to change our mind, there is nothing wrong with having certain beliefs and worldviews. How else would we navigate the complex world?!

I wrote earlier:

It’s okay to change your mind about things, but that requires having an open and empty mind to begin with. That requires a relentless pursuit of “the truth”.

Changing your mind requires having an open mind and listening to others with (practical) empathy. It requires looking at the world from others’ perspectives without feeling the need to agree or disagree.

We forget that learning is the goal, whilst keeping ourselves healthily detached from any ideas we hold. Never be afraid to take one idea out and put another in its place to see how things compare and contrast.

Practice divergence and convergence. Unless we are willing to be wrong, we will never come up with anything worthwhile. That’s innovation in a nutshell. The more we want to be right, the more we must be willing to be wrong. Ask Michael Jordan, because as he’ll tell you, it’s often the case that we need to fail a lot before we can succeed.

I shared earlier:

We need to take risks (the greatest risk is not taking one). When we are not failing, we are not trying. No one goes through life being safe and not failing. Those who succeed the most are the ones who take the most risks (and/or often fail the most). There is no better example of this than Michael Jordan, who has said that the reason he succeeded in basketball and in life is because he took the most shots and risked failing, thus leading to his success. Again, we are talking about taking prudent (not ridiculous) risks. Don’t be stupid and stop being afraid of failing.

It’s only when we can be fully divergent that we can explore the possibilities. Only when we stop worrying about making mistakes do we have the freedom to push boundaries. For instance, a writer cannot write and edit at the same time. Or more broadly speaking, we can’t think and do things at the same time. We need to think about things and then do them. Strategy and tactics can’t be done together.

When we talk to others—especially those we trust and respect—we can engage in a healthy constructive discussion. That means we put ourselves and our thoughts out there without holding back so we can explore it together with others, all in the advancement of learning.

Unless we are willing to do things differently, how will we ever know if we could do better? While it’s comfortable to live with what we “know” to be true, we would be doing ourselves a grave disservice by not challenging our preconceptions. It’s easy to confirm our own biases rather than be willing to challenge them so we may learn something new.

Seek (healthy) conflicts at work. This requires having a safe environment where we push each other to pursue higher learning. It can be easy to put ourselves in echo chambers and thinking silos, thereby feeding our own biases, but we aren’t learning anything new that way. If we are not going forward, we are moving back. There is no such thing as plateauing.

We must not be afraid to make (different) mistakes. Ideally, we shouldn’t make the same mistake twice, but as humans, we do often learn things the hard way. When we make a mistake, we must lean into it rather than live in denial about it. The mistake is the way forward. Let’s embrace it wholeheartedly so we can learn from it and move on.

It’s okay to be wrong. To err is human. Never be afraid to change your mind. There’s nothing wrong with having opinions as long as you’re open to changing them.

Let’s try to stop being right all the time. The more we hold onto things, the harder it is to let go of them. It pays to be free and remain detached from what we “know” to be true (thus far).

Unless we are willing to be wrong, we will never push our limits. It’s not about us, but about advancing our learning in pursuit of the truth.

It’s okay to make different mistakes as long as we learn from them. Wash, rinse, repeat.

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