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Why Being Wrong Can Be the Best Thing for Your Career

Topics: Career Advice
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Jamie Street/Unsplash

Today is Everything You Think Is Wrong Day, but before you get offended and chuck your novelty calendar out the window, consider the holiday’s purpose.

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, the day was created to remind “some people to realize that they are not always right.” (No word on whether the author of that brief backgrounder had any particular people in mind.)

Even if you’re fully aware that you’re fallible, today’s a good reminder not only that everyone is wrong now and then, but also that there’s nothing wrong with not always getting it right. For one thing, your career would be very different — and not necessarily in a good way — if you suddenly gained omniscience.

Consider these benefits of being wrong now and then:

1. It Keeps You Humble

Confidence can help you nail a job interview, make a sale and get a promotion. But confidence alone can’t help you build the kinds of relationships you need to succeed as part of a team in the long term. For that, you need humility — the kind you get by messing up and admitting to it.

“Remember the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes: It’s okay to be wrong about something and, more importantly, it’s okay to admit that to others,” writes Patrick Allan at Lifehacker. “This shows that you not only value your opinion and decisions, but that you also value the opinions and decisions of those around you.”

Confidence alone can’t help you build the kinds of relationships you need to succeed.Click To Tweet

2. It Helps You Stay Open

If you were always right, you’d never have any reason to listen to other’s opinions and consider their contributions. That’s a problem, because professional life isn’t a multiple-choice test: there’s never one right answer.

Knowing that you can be wrong helps you pause and listen to other points of view. Even when your own take on a problem would work, you’ll probably reach a better solution by collaborating with others.

3. It Makes You More Creative

Some of the greatest inventions started out as failures or mistakes, including WD-40, penicillin, the implantable pacemaker and the color mauve. (Yes, really!)

The quickest path to success is often far from a straight line. Getting comfortable with missteps allows you to think creatively, which in turn helps you to recognize accidental greatness when you stumble across it.

Beyond all that, as your parents and teachers used to remind you, it’s unavoidable: everyone is wrong now and then. That includes every tech entrepreneur, inventor, business guru and artist — in other words, all of your heroes. So if you want to emulate successful people, the first step might be to be wrong now and then — and accept it.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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