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Is it worthwhile to be wrong?

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This question has the same answer than “is it profitable to win the lottery?” At the beginning both are affirmative but it depends on which is your reaction in front of an event or another, depending on how you invest and how you apply what you obtained, whether the lottery or whether the learning gained by the mistake done.

According to the politician and philosopher Marco Tulio Cicerón “is about humans being wrong but is by foolish people persisting on the error”. In my opinion, what truly results worthwhile is not doing a mistake but recognizing it.

Canadian researchers have found some evidence that as older we are, more we learn from our mistakes than from our success, and, also, that the learning from the trial-mistake is more effective for the memory than the knowledge achieved without mistakes. 

Leave open the possibility to be wrong and having the ability of identifying and recognizing the error provides the companies a high opportunity for the development of the professionals, as well as for the evolution, growth and recognition (reputation) of the brand. The recognition of the error allows the brand to be recognized as human, to be recognized as an empathic brand for its clients, employees and society.

The consumers don’t expect their brands to be infallible neither to be always perfect; they just want them to be honest about their mistakes. The human nature makes us run away from those people that (apparently) don’t have weaknesses and that never get wrong. Those attitudes generate problems connecting, trusting and engaging with the company.

Therefore, that an organization has the possibility to be wrong (I am not even saying promotes) and has acquired and developed the capacity and the ability to recognized their mistakes (I am not even saying that has created the channels) will allow it to develop other qualities for what being recognize. Among those qualities I would highlight:

  •  Innovation: It is not possible to evolve and growth without assuming that there is a possibility to be wrong, without recognizing that the correct path is not always the straight line. That is an ability that leads to the bravery of assuming risks that all companies have and that all innovation process, forced or not, entails. The worst decision is the one never taken or the one taken late.
  • Flexibility: For creating the process that protect the possibility of making a mistake and understanding that only from freedom emerges the trust and the creativity to evolve.
  • Objectivity: To be able to read in key of future and in a positive way the situation that leaded us to the mistake, as well as we should avoid blaming the others about our mistakes
  • Transparency: It is one of the ways of incorporating the honesty to the features of humanity and empathy expected from a company or brand. This transparency should show the mistake through the communication and the rectificationIn an hyper connected world transparency is not an option, is an obligation. Otherwise we already know that it is a mistake of incalculable consequences.
  • Coherenceclosely related to the last point; the coherence is the shorter distance between what I am as a brand and a company and what I am saying that I am. For a coherent brand/company it would be easier (and cheaper) to face their possible mistakes.
  • Humility: It doesn’t mean to recognize a weakness but to possess the wisdom and strength to know how to rectify.
  • And above all, the learning capacity: As Oscar Wilde said: “experience is the name we give to our mistakes”. The experience is what I am able to do with what I learned. The main point is that if as a company, brand (or even a person) I will not have the humility to recognize my mistake, I will not learn from the past and even less give a good answer to the future.

    But the most important, beyond developing these skills, the image that you will project will allow you to acquire a competitive advantage that will be difficult to beat for your competence, the capacity to engage and retain a talent with those same skills, this same attitude. Creative people and professional, with capacity of innovation, brave, honest, transparent, and coherent with their behaviour and their way of thinking and doing, flexible in front of the adversity and, specially, with the humility needed to learn about their mistakes.

    Values from a talent that in many cases the companies, and the society where we live, seem to waste when “retiring” by force professionals that, at 50 years old, with a bag full of experience, errors and good choices, mistakes and learnings, and probably in the best moment of their professional life, we deny, and with we deny ourselves, the opportunity to do shorter (and therefore, more worthwhile) the path they already did, forcing us to go across this path again and probably make a mistake once more.

    It is not worthwhile committing, year after year, generation after generation, the mistake that we will be eternally young and lacked of the humility to recognize the value of the experience of those who already did the path before us and to not develop the capacity of learning from them. Human is the only animal that stumbles twice on the same stone and, with him, all the entire society.
    If we have identified the mistake, we should learn from it and, as Cicerón said, don’t be so foolish to continue persisting on it

    Sebastián Fernández de Lara
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