Sunday, May 15, 2016

Being Wrong Makes You Smarter

So, here is the cool thing about being wrong - you get to grow. It sounds cliche in an era of Dweckian followers and Growth Mindset marketeers, but the reality is that growth feels good. It is the mojo we are all looking for: remember measuring yourself against the door frame as a kid, marking off in little pencil hashmarks how tall you were? It isn't the first hashmark that feels good, it is looking at the newest mark juxtaposed to all the others that makes our heart skip a beat.

As much fun as we had marking the door as a child, growth doesn’t always come naturally to the grown up. Once we mark success in some area of our life, it seems harder to motivate ourselves to learn something new. Growing takes some struggle and we know that we paid for our current successes with the hard-earned growth of the past. Our present status is built upon mistakes long ago made: ones that left scars and flittering memories of times when we felt inadequate. Why go through all that again? Why venture into the unknown or into the knowingly challenging without some compelling reason to face the struggle?

Go back to the example of the child marking their progress against the door: if she hoped to grow a foot at the changing of each season, she would be sourly disappointed and might just give up after the second measuring. However, if someone were to help this child gain the discipline of simply marking her progress regularly, she would grow to feel the joy of incremental growth. The realization that it is better to struggle in small spurts, to grow one small gain at a time, and to check one's progress regularly, is a far more powerful instrument of self fulfillment than the devastating realization that large gains come less frequently than Hollywood may have us believe.

So, the take away is this: don't be afraid to try something new and fail. Every time we fail we learn something new. When we fail, that is the time to mark ourselves on the door. Every time you stick your neck out there, every time you try something that you were afraid to try, that is when you go to the door and measure your growth. Guaranteed, if you are trying nothing new, if you are paralyzed with fear by the thought of failure, then you will be sadly disappointed when you get to the door.