I’ve been watching the events over the last week, the refusal of apologies, the claims of being right and the analyses and responses to it all and I asked myself, “What does it mean to be right?”
When I was a kid,, it was really important for me to tick the box and get it right. I genuflected to my elders and did and said the right things. I gloated as other kids got in trouble, or didn’t have the right answer or didn’t do the right thing. I was smug in my self righteousness because I lived for adult adulation.
As I grew older, I lost interest in pats and ticks. My need to explore, to make my own rules and to do my own thing were larger than the need to be right. My relationships changed as I listened less to elders, as I opened my mouth to question, challenge or answer back, and as I sought the truth behind the inconsistencies that I saw and experienced.
Being right was no longer part of the equation, in fact, it kept me back.
The challenges of adulthood and the choices that I made meant that I lived in a parallel universe to my peers. As they ticked their boxes and settled down, acquired properties, tightened their social circles and cemented their careers and social status, I took a hiatus and explored the type of life that I wanted to lead.
I was often told that I was wrong to leave my accounting career and cautioned to get back on the right track. I was admonished to do the right thing and honour myself and my intelligence by regaining my ambition of being a highly paid Executive.
I never thought that I was wrong. I understood that my path could only be wrong if I determined that another was right, I knew that my path could only be right if I considered another wrong. I learned to exist in the neutrality of being neither.
Being right does not exist by itself, it exists because there is something else which we deem wrong. There is only a right answer because there is a wrong one, there is a right way to live because we consider some other way wrong. We can only believe that we are right because we believe that another is wrong.
As I deviated from the one right way, I discovered multiple paths, each with consequences and so I confirmed that I could not get it wrong.
I am aware that this is a personal belief, because as the world turns, people are denied human rights, cultures are deemed savage, countries are lambasted and sometimes blasted because their beliefs, their actions and what they stand for are deemed wrong – Why? Because another way is right.
This rightness also lives in our organisations. We see it in leadership that tells people what to do and how to do it, and in leaders who believe, “It’s my way or the highway.” We see it when there is conflict and both sides are not heard, when change is resisted because,“This is the way that we do things here.” It is reflected in company policy and and procedures that reflect some ancient or one off circumstance that is no longer valid.
We may not be able to change the world; but we can change the world that we live in, and our organisations are a great place to start.
Next time you are right and you think that another is wrong ask yourself, “What makes me right and the other wrong? What am I willing to give up to be right?”
If you need help exploring these questions as a leader or with your team, then drop me a line. I can help your team explore the multiple paths, where no one gets it wrong.