I wrote an article on April 6, 2014, entitled, Same sex marriage: we don’t have to agree. In that article I emphasized how abusive and intolerant we have become with our opinions, and how exclusionary we are setting ourselves up to be. If you think about it, the impetus for our very strongly held opinions is that we want to be right. If we are right, then the other person or group must be wrong. Damn that feels good!
American journalist and author, Kathryn Shuulz, spoke at TED a couple years ago, and the title of her 17 minute talk was: On Being Wrong. What Ms. Shuulz has to say is well worth all of you allotting 17 minutes of your day to watch this attached video. The gist of her message is that it’s a very big problem to have the feeling of always being right, and she explains why.
To begin with, she asked some of the audience members this question:
How does it feel to be wrong?
Their answers were: dreadful, embarrassing, thumbs down. She thanked them for their answers and then told them that they actually provided answers to a different question, that question being:
How does it feel to realize that you’re wrong?
You see, being wrong doesn’t feel like anything. We go along our merry way believing something or stating something, fully convinced that what we’re saying is right, so we’re not feeling what it feels like to be wrong. It isn’t until we discover that our strongly held opinion or belief is actually wrong that the dreadfulness and embarrassment creep in.
Many of us were raised to realize the importance of not making mistakes, or if we missed that lesson, we rapidly learned in school – and then in our working careers – that making mistakes is a big fat no-no.
But what about the statement: we learn from our own mistakes?
I can honestly tell you that I’ve learned far more valuable lessons from falling flat on my face than I’ve learned standing up on a self-righteous pedestal. Being wrong or making mistakes is not a defect. It’s a fact of life. St. Augustine would say it proves that we’re alive:
Fallor ergo sum. I err therefore I am.
I can live with that.