After reading yesterday’s post “What is Failure?”, a reader alerted us to the compelling TED talk, “On Being Wrong” by Katherine Schulz, a”wrongologist”, who studies what it means to make mistakes. Schulz has some interesting ideas about where “feeling right” and “being wrong” intersect; it’s worth listening to whole 10 minute talk to follow the flow. (We’re still mulling the idea that “feeling something is right” is an erroneous notion.)
What’s great about TED talks is that you can read the transcript as you go, or afterwards to revisit ideas. We’ve culled some essential nuggets from Schulz talk:
“…we freak out at the possibility that we’ve gotten something wrong. Because according to this, getting something wrong means there’s something wrong with us.
…The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t.
…1,200 years before Descartes said his famous thing about “I think therefore I am,” this guy, St. Augustine, sat down and wrote “Fallor ergo sum” — “I err therefore I am.” Augustine understood that our capacity to screw up, it’s not some kind of embarrassing defect in the human system, something we can eradicate or overcome. It’s totally fundamental to who we are. Because, unlike God, we don’t really know what’s going on out there. And unlike all of the other animals, we are obsessed with trying to figure it out. To me, this obsession is the source and root of all of our productivity and creativity.
…And to me, if you really want to rediscover wonder, you need to step outside of that tiny, terrified space of rightness and look around at each other and look out at the vastness and complexity and mystery of the universe and be able to say, “Wow, I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.”
The issue of “failure” and “making mistakes” and “being wrong” is a theme that we find running through many conversations these days as people examine their lives, look back at what’s happened and forward, consider new ideas – and risks. It is an ungoing conversation…
We love the question we saw recently 99% (and have been mulling ever since): What was your biggest mistake, and what did you learn from it?
Check out Schulz’s Slate series “The Wrong Stuff,” featuring interviews with high-profile people about how they think and feel about being wrong.
Related posts: ‘self-confidence produces fine results’ (sagmeister’s banana wall)
the desire for safety as enterprise/project stifler
stefan sagmeister on ‘serious failure’ and training the mind
‘harness the power of being an idiot’
j.k. rowling on the fringe benefits of failure