Being Wrong in a Different Way

Key Takeaways

  • No one likes being wrong, but there are lessons to be learned from being wrong.
  • Chances are, if you’re doing something new and complex, you’re going to get it wrong at the start.
  • By looking at our failures in a new light, we can embrace the process and appreciate the progress we make along the way.

Author John Maxwell has said, “Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” This is the sentiment behind a recent James Clear article, 5 Lessons on Being Wrong.

Generally, humans really dislike being wrong. It’s uncomfortable and it feels like failure. But when you’re starting something new and complex, it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to get things wrong. There are lessons to be learned from this, and James Clear outlines five of them.

  1. Choices that seem poor in hindsight are an indication of growth, not of your self-worth or intelligence. When you make a poor choice, it can make you feel stupid, but what you come to understand is that there wasn’t any other way around it. This is because you had to grow and gain experience before you could make better choices.
  2. Given that the first choice is likely to be wrong, it’s best to get going right away. Get started on that new endeavor. Otherwise, you’ll procrastinate, thinking you’re not ready. The fact is, you’ll never be truly ready. Just get started, knowing that you’re only going to get a portion of it right – the first attempt will likely get you about 80% of the way to where you want to be.
  3. Break down topics that are too big into simpler topics that can be mastered. Sometimes we try to take on too much and we fail not because we’re incapable, but because we tried to do too much all at once. By breaking things down into smaller pieces, delegating things to people who can help, and working as a team, you can make a big project much more manageable.
  4. The time to trust your gut is when you have the knowledge or experience to back it up. We see this in the workplace – having employees with decades of experience can benefit the entire team. They’ve been through the ups and downs and they can help less experienced workers avoid some bad decisions. These are the people who’ve already learned from mistakes in the past and their decision making comes from a place of solid knowledge and experience.
  5. The fact that failure will happen is not an excuse for expecting to fail. While you recognize that you’re going to experience some level of failure, you still try your best. Don’t avoid trying simply to avoid failure. Go into it with a positive attitude and don’t let being wrong get you down.

Rather than labeling failure as being wrong, think of it as learning something new. When you’re learning something new, the last thing you need is to have people being judgmental (or for you to judge yourself). Failure is simply part of the natural process of learning – and it’s an important part of the process.

So, when you’re attempting to do something new, recognize the part that failure plays in it, and see it as something to embrace, rather than avoid. Until next time, enjoy.


If you’d like to read more on this topic, here are a few of our past Coyle Blog posts that you might enjoy:

The Positive Problem

Perfectionism is to Procrastination as Progress is to …?



Gary Klaben serves as a Financial Advisor, and visionary for Coyle Financial Counsel. He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, Wealth of Everything and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.

Learn more about The Coyle Process, approach designed to get your arms around the big picture, so you can make informed financial decisions. Ask Gary about The Coyle Process and schedule a complimentary consultation and start living the Good Life Managed Well™.
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All information is from sources deemed reliable, but no warranty is made to its accuracy or completeness.   This material is being provided for informational or educational purposes only, and does not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any client or prospective client.  The information is not intended as investment advice, and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or invest in any particular investment or market segment.  Those seeking information regarding their particular investment needs should contact a financial professional.  Coyle, our employees, or our clients, may or may not be invested in any individual securities or market segments discussed in this material.  The opinions expressed were current as of the date of posting but are subject to change without notice due to market, political, or economic conditions. All investments involve risk, including loss of principal.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

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