“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”
~Alexander Pope

I’ve watched too many of us get caught in our fear, especially our fear of being wrong…or being caught at being wrong. It stops some people from speaking up in meetings. It stops others from stepping in when they think projects are going awry…or think people are being mistreated or ignored. It stops many of us from suggesting new ideas and pursuing new passions.

We must lose our fear of being wrong. We must lose our shame of being wrong.

For many of us, we are taught from a very young age that it’s not good to be wrong. We get chastised for incorrect answers in class or on our tests. We may be shamed for speaking up or out. For trying new things. For coloring outside the lines.

But creativity stems from – and flourishes within – an atmosphere of experimentation. Of originality. Of imagination. And there inherently is no “wrong” in imagination. And in fact, we always can learn from our mistakes – from our wrong choices and wrong actions.

So how do we rid ourselves of this fear? Or at least lessen it? Therein lies the challenge.

I have clients who have formed brainstorming groups and creativity circles – with the rules being there pretty much are no rules. Without the concern of being called out for a wrong idea, this is a great way to strengthen our ability to lose our fear of being wrong. I have clients who have picked a totem to remind themselves to walk through their fear when it arises – a mantra they repeat to themselves, a picture they look at or recall, or a physical movement or sensation. This prepares them to feel the fear and move through it anyway. I have clients who regularly practice their chosen creativity – writing, problem solving, leading, singing, innovating, etc. – to build their abilities to not step back out of fear of being wrong. I have clients who set personal goals that help them push through the fear.

There are a multitude of ways to move past (or through) the fear of being wrong, and there are a multitude of reasons to do it. What I know for sure is that the fear of being wrong very rarely helps us and more often than most of us would care to admit, gets in our way.

How have you moved past your fear of being wrong?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

If you want to move past the fear, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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