The Power of Being Wrong

This week’s post comes from Dave Crumrine.

What’s really going on here?  Am I seeing this properly?

Recently I watched a TED video on “being wrong” and why most of us generally avoid it so much that it is making us far less effective than we could be.  If we would just take a minute and get real about how much we know and don’t know, we would be much more effective as leaders.  To simply acknowledge that our mind dramatically affects what we “see”.  Or that our own personal filters are different than those around us and “the truth” looks different to just about everybody around us.  In other words, our perspective is unique. (and so is everyone else’s by the way)

For me, one leadership responsibility is instilling confidence on the direction. This means that I often am not 100% sure of something but I believe the followers need to be confident and we need to get going. So I step out there, set direction and take action. The problem is, I often do it in a way that doesn’t leave enough room to be “wrong” and make proper adjustments. Not too far along, I don’t want to be wrong (even though I wasn’t 100% sure when I started) and certainly the followers don’t want to tell me I’m wrong. Will that keep any of us from making the important, quick adjustments to be successful…..?  Almost certainly.

Many of us understand that any journey takes a huge number of adjustments. Heck, a good casual family vacation at my house takes dozens. Why would complex business be any less so?

This forced me to consider how well I, and we at Interstates, test our ideas. Are we comfortable with telling people we aren’t sure? We believe we have an edge and can be “more right” or “right more often”.  Is that true? Or is it just for own ego that we need to be right?  If we set out on our direction with “this is how we are going to start, and we are going to look for ____ ” to know we are on track, would we be better at making adjustments? With everyone looking for the signs and basically set-up to adjust, would we be better?

Many productive and accomplished people throughout  history have said that failing faster and failing “better” is the secret to making progress and doing great things. So why is being wrong so hard on us?  Why do we avoid it?  Don’t we get it?  Or don’t we get it way down deep, where it really counts?  Do we understand all this on an intellectual level, but when it comes time for us to be wrong…we would just as soon let someone else step out and volunteer for that?

I’d propose that we should all get better at knowing that we will be wrong and setting out looking for it. We need to get great at listening to each other to “see ” when it it isn’t working and adjust.

As leaders, we can’t set out to be perfect. That’s for elementary school spelling tests.  Our work as leaders would be way more effective if we set ourselves up to expect to be wrong and get great at seeing it and making timely course corrections using the people around us.

Challenge going forward… Ask yourself “where am I wrong and am not admitting it?”  “Where could my being wrong and not seeing it, be holding back my team?”

The 18 min. video I watched if you are interested is found here:

Continue Leading the Interstates Way!
Dave Crumrine


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