Having been out pf physical therapy school for a few years now, I realize that in the profession (and in life), the skill of being wrong is a valuable one. This blog is about why being wrong is a good thing for professional (and personal) growth, what being wrong should look like and how to do it more often everywhere, including the clinic.
Why Being Wrong Is Good
I will be the first to admit that being open about being wrong is one the most challenging and unnatural things that we can do as clinicians and as people. However, I’m also here to assert, from experience, that embracing our wrongness makes us better and most times, other people admire that. Being wrong is a good thing because it’s the first step toward realizing mistakes, making adjustments and implementing improvements. Without a deep realization that we don’t know everything, we run the risk of living with the unconscious assumption that we are always right and that’s a dangerous thing because it leads to stagnation. Being wrong is what allows us to be better healthcare professionals and humans.
What Being Wrong Looks Like
Speaking from personal experience, the more I learn, the less I know. That can be an intimidating realization but the skill of being wrong doesn’t have to be complicated. Like Bob Sutton once said, “an attitude of wisdom is acting on the best information you have while constantly doubting what you know.” These words suggest that we should do the best with what we have while also knowing that better exists; that we can be confident in what we do know but also open to what we don’t. Beneath the surface, this thought is about living with a spirit of humble and unsatisfied confidence; a spirit that does good while striving for great. Do the best you can with what you know and when you know better, do better.
How To Be Wrong More
I love to do things well and the idea of presenting an imperfect product to the world can still be hard to wrap my head around. However, everyone and everything needs to start somewhere. In the end, consistent action over a long period of time is what produces results. It is with sustained action that we can make mistakes, learn from failure and refine the process. It is only when we start and continue on that we can create amazing and meaningful things. The willingness to take risk, pursue something with an unknown outcome and remain devoted over time is what it takes to make a difference. Each time that we are open about being wrong, we have the opportunity to collect new data and integrate new ideas. Being wrong is about collecting information with the desire to be better for the people you serve.
Before we wrap things up, if you’re a clinician struggling with the concept of being wrong, I couldn’t recommend this book or this mentorship any more. Both are excellent resources for people who want to better embrace the gray of what we do.
If you’ve read this far, whether you’re in healthcare or not, I just want to leave you with an encouragement. Being wrong is one of the most difficult things in this world because it challenges our ego. In the end, to be great at anything, we have to be willing to put our ego aside and use wrongness to push us toward rightness. The constant march to a better life begins with the admittance that we don’t know much. More often than not, the people that we serve (even patients) will respect our open lack of knowing when paired with an open desire to improve. Let me leave you with one more quote.
Go be wrong.
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