Go out of Your Way to Be Wrong

Admit it… you love being right, don’t you? I’m not juding – I do too. Isn’t it a delicious feeling? It’s the best.

Unfortunately, needing to be right is death to anybody who is trying to do great things in the world.

Sure, it might be comforting when things go exactly the way you expected they would, but you must realise that you will not improve this way. You will not get smarter. You will stagnate and you will stall. You will die inside.

You get better – in every way – only when things go differently than you expected. In other words, only when you are wrong.

There’s a very simple reason for this.

You navigate life using a kind of mental map of reality. This map – which is influenced by every experience you have ever personally had, as well as the biology you inherited from millions of years of ancestors – tells your mind what it can expect in any given situation.

Generally, it is so accurate that you don’t even notice it is there.

You notice, however, every time you confront something that contradicts your map. You expect one thing, but what happens is something quite different. And when this happens, your mind springs to attention. It rushes and rallies to process this new information, and it is at this moment that we can go in one of two directions.

If we accept the new information, integrate it and make it part of a new and improved map, we get smarter. Our map more closely resembles reality and we enjoy an ever-more interesting and engaging life.

If instead we deny the new information out of hand, and insist that our map is fine the way it was, we get stupider. Our map gradually becomes more out-of-touch with reality every day. It takes more and more energy to cling to an out-dated map in the face of so much contradictory information, and life becomes a miserable, frustrating experience.

Go out of your way to be wrong. The more times a day you can violate your prior expectations, the more often your map will be rewritten, the more nuanced and detailed it will be, and the more closely it will resemble reality. This will quickly bring you far more joy than the pale and transient pleasure of “being right.”

You gain nothing by being right, and everything by being wrong.

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