Recently, I rewatched Kathryn Schulz’s TED TALK that synopses her book, Being Wrong. It is one of my favourite business books. It is such a humbling reminder that we are all human and therefore we all make human error.
Kathryn states that the feeling of being right all of the time, is actually dangerous. Now, this doesn’t mean compromising any knowledge you have gained from your experiences. This means loosening the attachment we have to our own “rightness”.
As a CEO, or just plain human being, you NEED to allow the opportunity for being wrong. Without opening the door to failure, you are compromising the likelihood of success. Unlike any other animals on this planet, humans are obsessed with figuring out how and why our world is the way it is. Without this curiosity and acceptance of not knowing everything (aka not being RIGHT all the time) we would not be the productive, creative, or innovative species we are.
Here are 4 ways to be better at being wrong:
“GUT IT OUT”
One of the most vulnerable things you can do is answer tough questions. Questions that you might have the wrong answer to. The process of “Gutting It Out” is one I have talked for over 20 years, as it is a key step in 3HAG framework. To Gut It Out, you must answer these 14 questions, regardless if you are right or wrong. Imagine each question as a “required field” on a form. You can NOT complete the form unless you answer them, so chance being wrong and gut out the answer!!
Risking being wrong and doing the work to answer these questions WILL help you. It will make you curious. It will help you focus. This is what my team and I has to figure out the hard way growing our companies and now with the high growth companies that I have the opportunity to coach.
OPEN UP DECISIONS TO YOUR WHOLE TEAM
As CEO, I wanted to control the answers to the Gut It Out Questions. That seems absolutely ridiculous writing this now but when you are in it, as a leader, as a human, its very normal to to want to control. Through experience we as leaders realize that the more we can help out team see the outcomes of where we are going the more we let go of the control. We as leaders pile up your own plate too full – if we don’t share and build the future with our team and leaders The reason we do this is fear of failure. We don’t want our companies to make the “wrong” choices so we control the final say. Having this level of control overloads our time and leaves us incapable of actually growing our companies.
There is a reason CEO’s and executive members are part of the “Leadership” team within companies. It is because we LEAD our people, we guide them to the outcome – not control them. We must enable them to make great decisions!
Next time you have a planning or strategy meeting, create the outcomes with you team and guide them to conclusions and decisions. Sometimes they will be wrong, but more than not they will be right and will address things that you were never able to see before. One strategy I use to do this is asking one simple question is always ask team members, “What do you recommend?”
Give it a try when you are presented with a question or request for a decision. See what happens!
QUESTION THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN “RIGHT” FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME
The easiest thing to ignore something or someone who is not demanding your attention. When an team member or team is meeting expectations we are content. But what happens if they remain at that plateau of just meeting expectations and not exceeding them? Leaving them as is – is a safe way that might seem “right” as its safe. Why does it feel so “wrong” to disrupt this peace? Being “wrong” by asking questions and deep diving into those areas of the business might actually be the right answer you are ignoring.
If you are not evolving you are not growing.
ACCEPT “GOOD ENOUGH” and evolve.
In our personal lives, we don’t have the time to wait for all the evidence to make decisions and take action. So what do we do? We make conclusions and accept things as “good enough”. If we didn’t do this, we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed and go about our lives.
So why are so many companies not accepting this process in their businesses? Companies and their leaders MUST accept “Good Enough” in order to move forward! As in life, accepting things as “Good Enough” is a feature, not a flaw. Our companies need it to survive, evolve and thrive, just as we humans do!
Need help letting go of perfection and accepting the a “Good Enough” – possible WRONG answer? Read my blog on the topic.
-Shannon Byrne Susko