I err, therefore I am. Kathryn Schulz “On being wrong”

How does it feel to be wrong? Nope – it’s not embarrassing, devastating, disappointing or anything along those lines. When it happens, being wrong feels exactly like being right. Nobody misunderstands, mistakes, misinterprets on purpose. “I wouldn’t have done X if I had known Y” is a frequently heard concept – and in most cases, it is actually very credible.

The next step in the process of being wrong, however, comes with emotions. It’s the moment when we realize that we are wrong. And even though the emotions might differ, depending on the nature and gravity of the mistake – usually, they are rather negative with a slight taste of bitterness. Because even though we are ready to accept that the human species is fallible in general, even though Learning from mistakes has become a buzz phrase in business, management and education, we are much less generous in tolerating our very individual moments of failure.

And indeed, mistakes can trigger all kinds of problems: loss of money and career opportunities, relationship troubles, pollution, war. However, the source of these problems is not our ability of being wrong, and attempting to avoid failure by all means is not the solution. Instead, we should try to break out of our own “bubble of rightness”, integrate the possibility that we could be wrong in everything we do, and when we feel absolutely certain about something, take this as a sign to force ourselves and look at it in a different way.

Because outside this bubble of rightness is the place where miracles happen. Or at least twists, turns and suprises – things we all like and embrace.
James Joyce referred to mistakes as the portals of discovery. And “wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz claims that the miracle of the human mind is that it can see the world as it isn’t.

So let’s misthink, misinterprate, misunderstand, misbehave in order to rediscover wonder.

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Posted by Sophie on June 9th, 2013
 

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