Monday, 20 May 2019

Being Wrong, Part 1

I don't know about you, but I hate being wrong. It is even worse when I have climbed upon my high horse, then have to climb down again, experiencing that warm wash of shame. The more sure I have been about being 'right' the hotter the shame on facing the evidence of my failure.

But if we want to learn, we can't avoid being wrong. Being wrong means that we are learning, because learning changes us and moves us from one place to another. Learning changes our perspective. It shows us that what we think is going on is merely the top fraction of a millimetre, and to really get to grips with things, we will have to dig a lot deeper.

Being wrong is a normal risk with learning anything new. Yes, we run the risk of looking foolish, of being thought less of by our peers, of showing that we don't know it all. But when we consider that we now all pay to be students, that is a pretty silly way to think. Why would we pay to stay the same? Unless we are open to the fact that we don't yet know it all - obviously, or else why are we studying - we aren't welcoming the challenge of new ideas.

To learn, we must move ourselves from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006). To do that, we have to be able to question our own beliefs, to seek new evidence, to analyse and to test new ideas, and to acknowledge that the new ideas may well displace our existing ones.

If they didn't, I would be worried that we had wasted our money.

So why is it that in the workplace, we like to think that the manager has all the 'right' ideas? Why do some organisations create a culture of 'don't ask questions'? That's pretty risky too, I think: and a wrong-headed way to manage.

There is a new book out, called "Questions are the Answer: A Breakthrough Approach to Your Most Vexing Problems at Work and in Life" by Hal Gregersen. It deals with being wrong, but with a view to reframing our approach, and how that strategy is very good for us (Vozza, 21 January 2019). I have read a sample chapter, and am hoping to get a copy so I can find out if it will change me.

I hope so. I will report back later in the year.



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