As a youngster, we are pretty sure we know everything about everything. I can’t tell you how many times I have attempted to give one of my younger sisters advice about something, only to be met with resistance because they are certain they know what they are doing, and know more about life than their silly older brother.
We are sure the best tasting food we will ever know is a frito boat with extra cheese.
We are extremely confident in ALL of our wardrobe choices.
We know that kissing is cool, but sex is weird and kind of gross. Ha.
And this erroneous thought is not just at the individual level. Until Christopher Columbus got a few reckless souls to travel with him, the majority of the world was certain that Earth was flat.
At one time, it was thought that the best method to treat an open wound was by rubbing animal excrement into it.
You, me, even learned scientists have gotten things wrong over and over and over again.
As we get older, and time passes, individuals and society at large learn and build upon our knowledge base. We live new experiences. We branch out, try new foods, learn more about ourselves and what we identify with most. Trial and error in science, life, and beyond teaches us that, sometimes, the things we were most sure about are indeed false.
And it doesn’t stop once you become an adult. At the end of every year of my life, I can look back and think of something that I was so sure of just a year before, which has ultimately been proven wrong, by way of experience, increased knowledge, or simply changing as a person.
By most standards, being wrong is not an asset. It is generally frowned upon in the classroom, not earning you any extra points. But from a broader perspective, being wrong is truly something special, because when you realize and acknowledge that you were wrong about something, that means you are experiencing growth.
Realizing that putting leaches all over ourselves to cure or prevent illness was not necessarily the best medical practice, and it led to some of the greatest medical advances we have today.
Making a wrong turn and misjudging the layout of the world allowed for Columbus to happen upon this great rock that we currently inhabit.
Realizing you were wrong means turning a corner. It means you have improved upon something in your life or the lives of others. We are all wrong and we will all continue to be wrong, and that is, paradoxically, one of the most inspiring things when you really think about it.
Life is not about a series of correct choices, life is about trying and failing and trying and failing and learning from all your numerous mistakes along the way. What is success, after all, if not a series of failures that led to change and growth?
Personal development is nothing if you are not wrong along the way. In order to change and grow, you must fall, sometimes very hard, to learn a better way to do things in order to avoid falling in the future.
So, recognize that many of the things that are truths to you today, will likely be, at some point in the near or far future, considered false. What does that mean for your life? For everything you are doing right now?
Think about the possibilities that open up when you realize that you are wrong about most everything you know. All those little internal beliefs you hold about what you cannot do, your fears that you are sure are based on solid reasoning. One day, it is likely that you will learn you were wrong.
Allow yourself the freedom to be wrong. You will learn and grow and be better for it in the end.