How to Know When You're Wrong and Be Okay With It

How to Know When You're Wrong and Be Okay With It

Growing up, amid all my insecurities, the one thing I had faith in was my intelligence. I was a smart girl and there was no way to dispute that.

It was something I held on to desperately when I didn't feel pretty enough, or fun enough, or cool enough. 

So, when anything threatened this one area of strength, I got defensive. Like, way too dramatically defensive. My reaction led to a very ugly characteristic:

It was almost impossible for me to admit when I was wrong.

I know that most people don't like admitting errors; it's embarrassing and it bruises your ego, no matter how confident you are. But for me, it was worse than that. Being wrong meant the one thing I thought I had going for me was a lie.

But then, something really amazing happened: I graduated college. 

My attempt at perfection was constantly beaten down the second I stepped into the workforce. I was faced with missing a task deadline or suggesting ideas that weren't right for the project. I was told I wasn't getting the job I knew I deserved.

It was brutal and painful and made my generalized anxiety a real roller coaster of hidden bathroom cry-fests.

I would spend the rest of the day beating myself up because something wasn't done right or a client gave feedback that was less than stellar. I would carry it home with me and let it affect the rest of my night. I convinced myself that I wasn't good at whatever it was I was doing at the time.

And then I started a business, and realized how I knew even less than I thought I did.

I was a forever-rookie; accomplishing something only to realize the next step was a new topic I knew nothing about.

I quickly learned that being wrong wasn't something to be ashamed of, it was an opportunity to get better at something. 

  • You missed a deadline? No big deal, find a new task management system that works better.
  • Your client sends you a nasty email telling you what a disappointment you are? Brush it off, then remind yourself that this is just further proof that peoples' behavior is more about them than it is about you.
  • Your recommendation for a project ended up being a disaster? That's okay, take ownership of it and find a solution that works.

Unless you're a surgeon or a General, no one dies because you made the wrong decision.

The next time you screw up, try this:

Step 1: admit you did something wrong. It's a mature quality that people will respect (as long as it doesn't happen every day).
Step 2: think of one positive takeaway. If you're down in the dumps and can't think of anything, remind yourself that you just survived one more hardship/failure/setback/whatever you want to call it. That makes you a survivor. Like Beyoncé.
Step 3: rephrase whatever went wrong. For example, if you miss a credit card payment and incur a late fee, don't beat yourself up about it. Instead, consider this a $30 lesson in scheduling a reminder for payment due dates.

You're a human, which means you're going to mess up, but it also means you're incredibly resilient. If you're a good person and you work hard, most decent people around you will be forgiving of a mild mess-up. In fact, it might even make them feel better about their own mistakes. It's all about perspective.