How Being Attached to Being Right Makes You Wrong

Are you someone who needs to have the last word in an argument? Are you frustrated when others disagree with your opinions? If so, you’re not alone. Let’s face it: Many people don’t like to be wrong.

Growing up, we were led to believe that being right was associated with excellence, acceptance and attention. In school, we were praised for having the right answer when we raised our hand or receiving a high score on a test. If we were wrong, we felt embarrassed and if we scored lower than the other kids in class, we felt inadequate. 

Unfortunately, this mentality stays with many of us into adulthood and negatively impacts our personal and professional lives. 

Understanding the Know-It-All Mindset

The need to be right is rooted in the ego – with a desire to prove your worth to others, the ego thrives on validation. By letting your ego take the wheel, you tie your self-esteem to your performance and the way others perceive you. When you’re incorrect, you experience shame and feel like a failure. This is why you avoid being wrong at all costs.

The more attached we become to what we know as “right,” the more we connect it to our identity and sense of security. Having such a rigid way of thinking is dangerous because it creates a distorted perception of reality. 

“The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is—but that you can see the world as it isn’t,” says Kathryn Schultz, author of Being Wrong

In other words, when you’re attached to being right you see the world through a narrow lens. You don’t leave room for diverse perspectives and different possibilities.

Why Being Wrong is Actually a Good Thing

  1. Allows you to reach new heights

If we’re afraid to make mistakes, we stop asking questions and challenging ourselves. This hinders our ability to gain insight and grow. As Bill Gates once said, “Success makes a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

Ask yourself, “Am I comfortable being complacent or do I want to step into my potential?”

  1. Makes you more resilient

Resilience is the trait that separates those who achieve their goals from those who don’t. The faster you can bounce back from disappointment, the better equipped you will be to handle life’s challenges.

  1. Raises your intelligence

As counterintuitive as it seems, mistakes make you smarter.

“For individuals with a growth mindset, who believe intelligence develops through effort, mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. For individuals with a fixed mindset, who believe intelligence is a stable characteristic, mistakes indicate lack of ability,” the Association for Psychological Science reports.

  1. Can lead to new and incredible discoveries

On a broader scale, some of the greatest inventions and scientific breakthroughs have been the result of so-called mistakes – penicillin, pacemakers, microwave ovens, ink-jet printers and the list goes on.

In many cases, innovation is the result of failure. To drive meaningful impact, leaders must promote a culture of experimentation and give their employees the freedom to explore new ideas.

Reframe Your Perspective on “Right” and “Wrong”

Essentially, “right” and “wrong” are fluid concepts. They change and evolve with the passing of time.

As humans, we’re skilled at manipulating information to validate our points of view. It’s how we’re wired. We choose to focus on what reinforces our beliefs. In many cases, instead of trying to learn, we’re trying to get our point across.

Think about all the times being “wrong” helped you succeed. Perception creates your reality. We’re all living in the same world, but observe and respond to it differently. That’s the beauty of being human. We’re constantly being challenged and forced to see things from a new vantage point.

It is only when we open our minds to new possibilities and become willing to take risks that we can unlock our true potential and contribute to the world in a meaningful way.