What to do when you’re Flat Out WRONG

“I was wrong.” Sound familiar?

A truly ubiquitous notion and an effortlessly simple concept. Now add a dash (no, a ton) of competition and about 7 zeros to the bottom line. Now how does your response sound? The same?

Unfortunately, probably not. Let’s take a moment then to go back to the fundamentals. Perhaps some of us learned this as early as kindergarten. Others, well, you’ll get there. So any way, you’re flat out wrong…what do you do?

  1. Blame someone else
  2. Question the determination of ‘wrong’
  3. Cover it up
  4. Accept and downplay
  5. Admit and work to improve

Above is my bulletpoint gambit of possible reactions for you to choose from then next time you are flat out wrong. On the off chance that you have been flat out wrong before, perhaps recently, can you remember which reaction you chose to display? Are you even qualifying your response in your own mind right now with some extraneous circumstances?

Seriously! People talk about innovation like it is the Kool-Aid of the decade, but acceptance of our own daily and or epic failures just gets glossed over like it really did stick with us since Kindergarten. Thousands of high profile corporate examples show us that this is not the case. Admitting when you are wrong and promptly working to improve yourself is really damn hard. And innovation (specifically the cycle of failure required for innovation) doesn’t work without it!

So before you get back on your soapbox to discuss failure or innovation or both with your teams, please take a moment to consider the career altering consequences these stakes can place you in and the sleepless nights that may precede an individuals’ decision. Start by validating this anxiety. To trivialize the stakes or your team members’ desire to succeed is to basically lie. They want to do a great job and to them, this is a big deal, so yeah, admitting when you are wrong is really damn hard. Next set the stage to alleviate this anxiety by example. When you choose option number 5 in front of your team, you are sending a strong message regarding what is acceptable and what is expected.

As always, lead by example and then watch as your team becomes more accountable, less risk-averse, fails just as often, yet creates more value.


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