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Stop worrying about being right

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Stop worrying about being right

Scott Miker

I’ve met a lot of people in my life that are so focused on being right that it gets in the way of their success.  They don’t understand that always trying to prove your point has you too narrow-minded to see that there may be a better way.

I think the reason is because we are all risk-averse.  We want to avoid risks that could result in pain and discomfort.  So we avoid areas that have the potential to improve because we would rather be able to say, “see I told you.”

But this is just a defense strategy for our ego.  It doesn’t actually help us improve.  Saying, “see I told you” doesn’t actually help anyone.  All it does is provide an ego boost. 

Systems thinking is great because it allows us to see and understand more of the complexity in life.  We can see that “see I told you so” doesn’t really mean you are right.  Because in hindsight, we can always find some element of the system to point to that benefits our opinion. 

Instead we have to start seeing the full picture, the full system.  This will allow us to see many aspects and see how interconnected everything is.  It usually allows us to see that there isn’t some easy, magical solution.  Many times the best way to move forward isn’t to search for the perfect solution it is simply to make a solution and stick with it. 

So we can use systems thinking to help frame the problem and then develop a solution that we feel is the best option.  It is never perfect, but it can help us move forward and progress. 

Doing this over and over we will slowly start to be able to do the things necessary to succeed.  We will experience times when things work out and times when they create additional problems that we didn’t anticipate.  This is because the critic can stand back and point out some magical, perfect option that we should have chosen without the reality that would come if we followed that option that problems would still arise. 

The best approach is actually to minimize the influence of others opinions.  We can certainly look to subject matter experts and take their advice into consideration.  But nobody is truly looking at the full picture. 

Systems thinking allows us to get closer to the full picture.  This allows us to see that the advice or opinion of one person misses key elements of the system. 

With all of this confusion and complexity, it can seem to point to giving up because we can’t be right unless we just sit back and judge others who are actually doing what we are too afraid to do.  It might seem that the only person free from criticism is the outsider looking in. 

But if we only want to be the outsider judging others we won’t actually improve ourselves at all.  We will always take the approach of just criticizing others rather than focusing on us. 

Therefore we shouldn’t look at others and think, “see I told you,” we should instead look at how a systematic solution could have avoided the problem and then incorporate that systematic solution in our own lives to prevent that problem from coming up in the future for us.