How Can You Be Wrong More Often?


how can you be wrong more oftenFor me, the single best thing you can do to become more creative is to be wrong more often. Creative people are wrong all the time (look at Apple’s long string of failures). The goal is to create a safe place to be wrong, a way to be wrong without destroying yourself. – Seth Godin (Interview by The Happiness Project)

Seth’s words caught my attention because of two things: First, that creativity is my life, and Second, that I still am afraid of making mistakes and wasting everything I’ve ever accomplished in life.

The second part of Seth’s quote gives us hope however. We need to create a safe place to be wrong, “a way to be wrong without destroying yourself.”

But how can we do that? Just how do we ensure that we don’t destroy ourselves with our mistakes?

In my previous job as an auditor, I believe we have such a word for that – risk mitigation. Risks exist, whether we like it or not. Without risk, there can be no business venture, and no profit in return. What we need to do is to learn how to handle those risks, how to mitigate them as best we could so as not to let them hinder us from our goals.

Following are some of the things I’ve listed in order to help me mitigate those mistakes:

1. Have a backup plan. Have as much backup or alternative courses of action as you may need. When Plan A doesn’t succeed, you always have Plan B or C.

2. Be aware of the consequences of your actions. You must be able to calculate just how much you are willing to risk. If your plan doesn’t materialize, can you handle the results? What would it cost you? Can you afford the consequences?

3. Test small before you leap BIG. There are times when you don’t need to plunge your entire body just to test how hot the water is. Just dip your toes a little to get a feel of the situation you’ll be placing yourself into.

4. Get relevant trustworthy advice. You don’t need to experience everything just so you’d have the wisdom to accomplish something. There are lots of people who’ve been there before, people who can advice you and impart to you the wisdom they’ve earned through the years. Just ensure that you weigh also the advice given you and talk only to people you could trust.

5. Use your imagination. As J.K. Rowling mentioned in her speech at Harvard, “Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not… it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” Use your imagination and envision what you’ll be up against. Feel it as though everything’s already happening. Will the worst of it destroy you or those that matters most to you?

6. Ready your safety nets. In case all of your plans fail, how do you manage your fall? Will someone catch you? Will you have facilities to assist you? Do you know how you will manage the pain you will feel? How will you heal and for how long?

7. Strengthen yourself. There is no better preparation than striving to be the best person you could ever be. Gain wisdom. Develop patience and maturity. Have the courage to face your challenges, and the faith that no matter what happens, you will be able to rise up from the ashes like a phoenix. Make mistakes, but not the ones that could destroy who you are, because who you are is the only thing you’ll ever have left even if you lose everything along the way.

Know yourself. If you know you have much to learn, and much strength to develop, don’t engage in challenges that are beyond your capacity. Know the battles that fit your current strength but could teach you enough to grow stronger.

As you gain more confidence in who you are, only then can you face those challenges that will not destroy you, but will bring out the very best in you!

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish” – Steve Jobs

10 comments on “How Can You Be Wrong More Often?

  1. Jessica says:

    Those are some great tips! Anything worth anything is going to come with some kind of risk. Even when it comes to loving a person, we are risking being wounded..and certainly when it comes to being creative and pursuing our dreams we are risking potential failure…But I’d rather fail and know I tried then wonder what could have been.

    Great post!

  2. Jocelyn, I hadn’t read this quote of Seth’s before and I can see how inspiring it is. I think the more confident we become about ourselves and who we are, the easier we find it to take risks and make mistakes.

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks, Corinne. I’ve often had a problem in making mistakes, maybe that’s why this quote has inspired me enough to write a post about it. 🙂

  3. melissa says:

    I became afraid of mistakes in the past first, because it could be life threatening esp. when dealing with patients and second, because so much time is expended to do something and to be something… but I think God saw me through it all. We lost many patients in the ward because of grave mistakes and ignorance…. and I lost a lot of opportunities focusing on something that didn’t work out BUT the thing there is, yes, I became more patient with myself and with others ~ I think my comprehension of other people ‘s feelings was stretched wider ~ and I learned to lean on God instead of relying on my own strength all the time… Creativity, that makes for strong faith 😉

    • Joyce says:

      That must have been a very tough time. Mistakes like that stretch us to our very limits, and in doing so, it allows us to reach out more to God. I don’t know how I could have handled situations like that. But God knew how you would be able to handle it and how it would draw you closer to Him. 😉

  4. melissa says:

    Just read Paulo Coelho’s post on the art of trying ( ~ love the creativity and connection of your post 🙂

    • Joyce says:

      Thanks for sharing Paulo’s post, Melissa. I’ve just read it and I can see how it’s also related to making mistakes and learning from them. God indeed has a way of allowing us to make the same mistakes until the lesson is learned.

  5. Wise words. Fear of being wrong can often rob us of our creativity, but if we take the chance, it could be our hugest blessing. Thank you for sharing!

    • Joyce says:

      You’re welcome, Lisa! Thank you for coming. We should really take our chances so we’d have nothing to regret about later on. 🙂

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