In today’s society everyone is right and everyone else is wrong. If you don’t agree with me, then you are wrong. If I don’t agree with you, then you are wrong as well. I do believe that society has taken an odd turn; one where people have lost the concept of understanding. We can’t disagree with someone and still like them, it seems. But that is a problem that am not sure how to correct. I do know that It starts with the individual. It starts with the acceptance that maybe you are wrong. And that’s ok. Here’s why.
No One Knows Everything
There is no way for any one person to know everything. However, there are people who would disagree….just ask them…they know. But seriously, there may be subject area experts, but they are not experts in every subject. In fitness, the 2:15 marathoner can not help you with your Clean & Jerk lift. Just like an Olympic lifter can not help you with your marathon training strategy. This is why we have coaches, teachers, doctors, lawyers, or anyone with a specific role to play in this world. If you are riding on the back of a garbage truck, don’t you think you have better insight as to what to do or not to do, more so, than someone sitting behind a desk? Of course you do. If you don’t grab that can the right way, you could be picking up pieces all over the street instead of dumping the can. If you are a data entry clerk, you know the best way to get the data into the system, whereas others might have difficulty getting the computer on.
Being Wrong Opens the Door for Learning
Being able to admit you don’t know something is the first step. Being open to the discussion that the world is round, even though everything you have ever known says it’s flat. As mentioned, no single person knows everything, and by taking your fingers out of your ears long enough to listen to someone provides the opportunity to learn. It’s ok to have an opinion, I definitely encourage that, because if you are indifferent it shows a lack of passion. Maybe admitting being wrong is too hard to do right now, that’s ok too. We can role play, so let’s pretend that you are wrong. Just for the exercise. Now that you have theoretically accepted this, now it’s time to figure out how to correct. This is where the fun starts, because you can try different things, strategies, etc at this point. You have temporarily accepted that you are wrong, now we are on the path to learn something. Trial and error works wonders sometimes, because it’s not about messing up, it’s learning what doesn’t work.
By being open to being wrong, a crazy thing can happen…conversations. The ability to be open about differences of opinions not only helps the two people talking it out, but for the others in which they make contact. They are working on a new skill that will translate into other situations where communication is key. It has an exponential affect. The more it’s done, the easier it becomes and the more lives are affected by it. By having a dialog about a subject, both parties can hopefully see where the other one is coming from. I will admit that not everyone is at the same intelligence level, but to be able to have a conversation with someone, doesn’t take a lot of intelligence, but it does take some humility. Too many times we aren’t listening to what the other one has to say, we are waiting for our chance to speak. This isn’t a dialog. This isn’t a conversation. This is just two people barking at each other. Like two yard dogs barking at each other from across the street. All it does is create more noise.
Acceptance is a skill. Communication is a skill. Learning is a skill. Skills take time to develop and perfect. It’s a lifelong journey. You don’t just arrive at that destination, but you do continually get closer if you work at it. We have all heard the Edison quote, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Each step was a step closer to the goal. He learned from each failing, from each step. He didn’t create the light bulb in one step, but he was open to saying he was wrong in that first one. He was wrong in the second one. He continued to be wrong until he got it right. One can argue that, yes it was the 1,000 step process, or that it was 999 failings. Either way, he didn’t know what it needed in the beginning, by being wrong it opened doors for him to learn the right way, and now all these years later we are still talking about it