Is It Right To Be Wrong?
How Wrong is it to be Wrong?
Many people are afraid of ever admitting that they are wrong. They feel like it is wrong to be wrong, and better to just be right all the time. And even if they are not actually right, they feel it is better to assure others that they are. This comes from a place of ego and not wanting to admit than you had done something less intelligent than you thought. However admitting you are wrong and correcting yourself actually seems more intelligent. And if you look at history, you will see a lot of very large examples of highly intelligent people who did great things but also did great things wrong and should have realized they were wrong sooner when they could have done things greater.
One of the great pioneers in psychiatry and neurology invented the frontal lobotomy in the 1800’s. He was awarded a Nobel prize for this. However later it was found that this was a barbaric act and had actually disabled the brains and ruined the lives of 100,000’s of people who had nothing actually wrong with their frontal lobe. Perhaps there was a point at which he questioned his methods, but then simply reassured himself that he knew what he was doing, and continued to do brain damage in the name of psychiatry. Mind you, this was not a stupid man, he was an award winning scientist. He was acclaimed by other scientists. He had the “social proof” that what he was doing was good, many people agreed that this was an intelligent, good and right thing to do…And then later they found that it was in fact wrong and the man seemed like a monster for doing such things. Perhaps him considering the idea of being wrong would have been the more intelligent thing to do.
Adolf Hitler was one of the greatest political leaders of all time, and an incredibly intelligent man. So intelligent he thought his knowledge was absolute truth. He had whole organizations of acclaimed scientists behind him supporting him, and conducting research and work of their own too, all of whom were very intelligent people as well. A large part of these peoples work just so happened to include domination of other cultures through warfare, and genocide. These were highly intelligent people, some of the best minds of the time. And the entire country in which this happened agreed that it was right and good, quite enthusiastically, celebrating Hitler and is regime fervently, so much that his speeches would draw crowds larger than the largest rock concerts today, and people would cheer for him and the women would be brought to tears of joy. Later, they changed their minds and realized that Hitler and his staff were in fact wrong to do so, and they wished that this was not even a part of Germany’s history. His name is now associated with shamefulness and evil, and his acts considered some of the worst wrongdoings in history. Perhaps considering his acts wrong as soon as possible could have saved this fate, and actually brought him to the place of higher power he wanted in the world.
Perhaps it is not being wrong that causes problems, but thinking one is right when one is wrong. And so perhaps it is not wrong to be wrong, but wrong to not have considered that you are wrong. For wrongdoing comes from righteousness. And perhaps it is right to think you are wrong. In fact always considering the idea that you may be is the only thing that could assure you are right and can do good and achieve success.
The history of the world is filled with these types of acts done by those who are known as intelligent authorities at the time, who are praised by the masses at the time they are doing them, and later who are shamed by the same people for being wrong. This has happened in all the realms of great leaders: Political, Scientific, and Religious. In fact it seems that intelligence without considering that one could be wrong can lead one to do shameful things, that one may not realize the shame in at the time due to ones sense of self pride and ego. This is what prevents one from being the most intelligent and successful.
And keep in mind that many people will not tell you when you are wrong. Many people do not have the courage to be dissenters, and in fact if you have a strong personality, many people will follow and support you as long as you seem to know what you are doing. You can usually not rely upon others for honest constructive criticism on your work because most people simply do not have the mental capacity to give it. They may think you are right simply because you are so sure of yourself, and that is where most of these great leaders were brought to such great failures. Not only were they not considering where they may have been wrong, but they were relying upon their supporters as the proof that they were right, and even if anyone disagreed with them here and there they probably thought “well I have so many other people who believe in what I am doing so it must be right”. But most people believe in things simply because they are not free thinkers. So you must rely upon your own intelligence and intuition to make sure you are right in what you are doing, as there is a good chance you are the only one who will be able to tell until it is too late. But if you do ever have someone else mention that something might not be right, make sure you consider that idea rather than just brushing them off. There is a chance that they are just jealous of your strengths and trying to stifle you, but there is a chance that there is something important in what they are saying. You will only know by exploring that possibility. Do not let your pride get in the way. I have had too many people ignore the constructive criticism or helpful advice I offered them and then they stayed stuck exactly where they were doing things in an ineffective or entirely incorrect manner. Never ignore someones feedback, it could in fact mean the difference between your success and your failure. I know that most of my success has come from listening to the constructive criticisms of others so that I can make the appropriate course corrections. Just do not take it personally and let your ego get in the way when you realize or are told that you are doing something wrong, you are not your actions, you can change them. The fact that you have done something wrong does not mean you do not have integrity as a person so do not let your ego or pride get in the way of your success. In fact it takes more integrity to put your pride aside and admit when you are doing something wrong and correct it.
Intelligence without considering the possibility of being wrong will only lead to horrible mistakes and failures that may actually bring lifelong ruin to ones name and even shame to oneself. What separates the truly great from the great failures is the ability to see when one is wrong and correct it promptly. The history of the world is also filled with great people who have also been very humble and used that principle for their success. Such as Thomas Edison who had to be wrong over 1,000 times before finally inventing the light bulb. If he were busy being too proud to be wrong, and spent his time convincing himself that he couldn’t possibly be wrong and should in fact be right, it would have never happened, and he would not be known as the great man who invented electric light.
So there is no shame in being wrong, in fact realizing it is the noblest and most intelligent thing one can do. It takes real integrity, and being able to do that and correct yourself is what will lead to unlimited success and true greatness, and may prevent some very horrible failures or at least a lot of wasted time and energy investments. But what’s more, and is truly magical about being able to admit you are wrong, is that it is simply just so much easier to not have to be right all the time and try to be the exemplary “Mr/Mrs. Perfect”. What a great burden upon your shoulders to have to be right and perfect all the time even when you may not be…Isn’t that just so stressful? I cannot think of anything more difficult or uncomfortable than trying to be the perfect specimen for all human behaviors. Being able to admit your mistakes really actually takes a great weight off of your shoulders. You will find that it feels so relaxing and good to be able to admit that you are human and simply try another way. Why oftentimes when I am debating with someone, even if it is obvious that I know more about the subject than they do, I start by saying “well I may be wrong but last I checked XYZ was true, perhaps you should check where you are getting your information and I’ll do the same.” It just takes so much pressure off of me to not NEED to be right, and state that I could possibly be wrong, and it actually gives me more credibility that way too. But of course I am always checking my facts and second guessing myself, because the world of knowledge is always finding new truths and evidence and making corrections to itself, and so it is important that we all do the same. And thus we can always make sure we are the most knowledgeable and enlightened. So why not give that a try for yourself and see how good that feels.