What if it’s Better to Be Wrong than to Be Right?

user Andrew Blum

When we do work around innovation and strategy with our clients, at some point the dialogue turns to “ideation” – and people get excited when they believe they have a “good idea.” When that happens I often intervene with an important and unexpected question: What’s the biggest problem with a “good idea?” This is often met with confusion because the whole process is about finding good ideas…isn’t it?  My answer is this: as soon as you have a good idea, you stop listening and exploring and move to defending and justifying.

The same thing happens when you think you know the “truth” or believe you are “right.” We see this dynamic playing out daily in myriad ways – big and small, annoying, and catastrophic – and the result is endless debate leading mostly to discord, divisiveness, and even violence. More than ever its seems we are in a world run by the ego in which we have lost the ability to do anything other than defend our own point of view. And it is clearly not working.

To me, the solution lies in leaders being willing to give up being right, and instead be willing to be wrong. Better yet, to become skilled at being wrong. In moments of dispute, imagine being able to move from defensiveness into curiosity and openness by intentionally asking yourself, “Where could I be wrong? Where are she/he/they right?” This shift is a check-mate for the ego and creates an immediate unlock. The ego only wants to be right, but the mind that runs the ego is like a computer. Ask it different questions and it will quickly find different answers. The answer to “Where am I wrong?” can lead to amazing breakthroughs and sometimes even transformational insights – and also to deep empathy.

These simple practices can help “the egoic mind” open itself up to being wrong…and in doing so, unlock an amazing world of possibility, innovation, and connection:

Appreciate relativity. All things are relative. Every person’s experience of reality is relative to their own past, orientation, history, experience, and preferences. I cannot know what the color purple is until I’m familiar with red or blue. I cannot know what dark blue is if I don’t know what light blue is. This is one of the essential truths about the human experience. We experience things in comparison to other things and each of us has a very different library from which we’re drawing our comparisons.

Embrace “I don’t know.” Believing that you are always right and “know the truth” seems comforting, but it is really quite limiting. As soon as “I know,” then if you disagree with me, by default, “you don’t know.” For many people, agreement equals connection. The egoic mind only wants agreement, which is very problematic for both true connection and learning.  And in truth, if you slow down to look carefully you will notice that “I know” has a weight and a charge to it – where “I don’t know” often feels lighter because it opens the door to listening, to seeing something new.

Always be curious (or ABC). You might associate the acronym “ABC” with the famous Glengarry Glen Ross scene, where the star salesman passionately (and somewhat vehemently) puts forth the premise that to succeed requires that one “always be closing.” And while this might have been a great motto for real estate salesmen in the 1950s, I suggest that “always be curious” might be a better approach to leading in today’s complex landscape. By remaining curious and sitting in questions such as, “What is it like for you?” “Why do you see it that way?” and “What are your experiences?” – you will learn and discover new things about yourself AND others. Curiosity communicates your respect for others and opens up your aperture beyond what the “I know” mind can see and hear.

If we all placed as much emphasis on being willing to be wrong as we did on our need to be right, and replaced certainty with curiosity, then we really could find the common ground of growth and possibility that is so needed now.

Back to TriumIQ

Let’s Talk

Contact Us

Trium IQ

What Good Leaders Do When Replacing Bad Leaders

Those who are replacing poor or controversial leaders have a special challenge. Every leader who fills a…


Catching Up with Reality

One of the great challenges that all human beings face is aligning their behavior with reality. This has…


Focus on Your Other Hand

In the last year, as leaders have been navigating unprecedented levels of uncertainty and anxiety, our clients…


Want to Be a Great Leader? Be a Great Coach

It’s no secret that the Bay Area is one of the highest-priced labor markets in the country,…


How to Build Strategy When “Set it and Forget it” Won’t Work

This piece was written by Doug Randall and originally published on Real Leaders. A global pandemic. Civil…


Your Only Job: Be Kind. Be Present. Be Clear.

As a management consultant, I get asked for advice all the time on a wide range of…


What We Can Learn From Joe Biden About Purpose

Regardless of your political persuasion or orientation, it would be difficult to not admire Joe Biden’s journey….


A Trium POV on The Purpose of Work

Andrew Blum reframes what work is all about and offers a different way of viewing work that…


Interview with Andrew Blum on His Recognition as a Top 25 Consultant

We are thrilled to announce that our Founder and CEO, Andrew Blum, was named a Top 25…


Trium Founder and CEO, Andrew Blum Recognized by Consulting Magazine as a Top 25 Consultant

San Francisco, Ca. (19 October 2020) – The Trium Group, a pioneering management consultancy that uniquely integrates strategy…


Winning the Long Game: Developing a Strategy Mindset

This article was originally published in Real Leaders magazine. Winston Churchill famously said, “It’s always wise to…


How My Old Dog Taught Me a New Trick about Team Performance

Who doesn’t like a good dog story? This is also a leadership lesson that resonated strongly for…

Artemis Patrick, Sephora

VIDEO | Our Clients Speak to the Impact of Trium Coaching

Our clients share the reasons they selected Trium as their partner in executive coaching, leadership development, and more.


5 Key Workouts for Building Management Muscle

Now more than ever, managers adept at creating environments that inspire others to achieve at a higher level are…

Photo credit to Drew Garcia

Leading When the World is on Fire

Autumn is typically that time of year associated with gathering the harvest and leaves falling to the…


VIDEO | How to Measure the Impact of Executive Coaching

Trium Founder and CEO, Andrew Blum provides the REAL value of executive coaching.