Being Wrong

Metal face, sidewalk decoration, Bainbridge Island, WA

“Sometimes it hits me that I’m wrong about most things. About time. About my place in space. About the nature of the body. About the nature of the divine. About human nature. About what death is. About who I am and who my kids are. And about what the creek needs to support the salmon and all its visitors.

But heavens, let’s not worry about being wrong! I’m gradually learning that, paradoxically, it’s the foolsgold–the blunderings, giving ups, breakdowns, in spite ofs, chance encounters, shatterings, letting gos, and mess-ups, that has led to most of the creativity in my life, not the sweet making of something beautiful, or “enlightened” inspiration, and certainly not feeling in control. It’s the opposites, listenings, buzz hums,  the falling (leaping) down the rabbit hole, the stepping through the looking glass, barefoot, with no suitcase, in new territory.”

–Susan G. Wooldridge, Foolsgold, p. 88.

After reading that, I began to wonder why it is that when we notice we are wrong, we are so concerned with having been wrong, instead of pleased and delighted in our ability to detect a mistake and fix or change it.

Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach.

10 thoughts on “Being Wrong

  1. Software development is a young field, but one of the things we’ve learned is that when you write software you are going to make errors. Not maybe — definitely. Lots of times, and sometimes even lots of times per day.

    But since that seems to be a given, we just deal with it. We pay people to find all the ways we’re wrong and tell us in excruciating detail what the problems are, and we just fix them, one by one. And when I say “one by one”, I’m talking about a list that may reach tens or hundreds of thousands of errors on a big project.

    You learn, doing this, that it’s not about ego, perfection, shame, or humiliation. It’s just the way it is, so get on with it. The goal is not to get it right the first time, or to get it completely right all at once, but to keep improving, one little tiny step at a time. Eventually you get there. Usually.

    This is in once sense nothing more than the engineering approach, but in another sense it’s a state of mind that’s a fruitful way to encounter much of the world. This [insert anything] isn’t anywhere near perfect, but I think I know how to fix that one little thing right there…

    For some kinds of evolution, we are the environment.

    • This is a very different approach than the usual business environment. Mistakes are hidden or lied about, because if you make a mistake you are wrong, punished and not promoted. So the person who gets the promotion are the people who never risk, never try hard enough to make a mistake, and never fail spectacularly, learning along the way. Which I think is the really important thing.

  2. Thank you for that Quinn! Coming wednesday I will be in Amsterdam near the ABC and I will see if I can get my hands on it, but if for some reason Foolsgold will be unavailable I will let you know and contact you!
    Ha, that really feels good !!

  3. I learn that learning takes time.. I have a rather stubborn and impatient nature and so.. it may take me even more time to learn from my mistakes.. 😉

    In Amsterdam we have a bookstore called ABC, American Book Center and one of these day I will go there to see if they have Foolsgold in their collection and if not they can always order it. This book might be very applicable for this person.

    • The book is a poetry book, the second one from the author who wrote poemcrazy. It’s a book about the breakup of her marriage, her life falling apart, poetry and love. If you can’t find it, let me know. I’ll be happy to send it to you. It’s easy for me to find.

  4. Maybe this message has good timing. I’m feeling like I’m making big mistakes everywhere I turn– “wrong, wrong, wrong” chiming in my head. So that could be a good thing? Hmmm. A change in perspective.

    • Yes, these words are especially good for you. In your new venture, a lot feels “wrong” that you will learn from and grow with. Next year, you will feel SO much more comfortable, and then go on to make new mistakes.

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