Be Great or Be Right?

Which would you rather be?

For many of us, there is some area of our lives we are trying to improve. Or at least, wish we could improve. Whether it be getting to the next level in our careers, launching a new career, elevating our personal relationships, advancing our health or increasing the quality of our life.

For every desire for improvement, there are numerous methods, techniques and approaches to get us there. Most are probably valid with persistence. However, I believe successful change depends not only on sustained motivation but also on increased awareness.

Often, our progress is not hampered by a lack of better strategies. Rather, it’s because we’re blind to our habitual thinking and actions that directly contradict what we say we want. We may even be aware that we are sabotaging ourselves but our patterns are so comforting and familiar, it’s simple to overlook them as the cause. It’s easier to keep what is familiar and put the blame elsewhere for our lack of forward motion.

One of these tough to face habits is the need to be right.

I completely understand this. It feels like survival. Think about it. For many of us, being right is an ingrained pattern of thought that protects us from feeling the uncomfortable state of failure and rejection. Also, at a very deep level we may not want to admit, it shields us from the dreaded feeling no one wants to feel. Unworthiness.

This need to be right weaves a web of self-defeating patterns that blocks success in our endeavors. It creates a bias for our perceptions – we only see what matches our beliefs cutting off access to opposing data that may actually help us succeed. It perpetuates story making – using up our mental energy to devise arguments to validate our point of view instead of creating new solutions. It accepts our assumptions as truth – making us rigid and righteous.

Defending our “right” can devour our vitality and leave us depleted.

What if we choose to be “great” instead?

In this context, great means finding out what is optimal. Great means focusing on what is useful for a positive outcome rather than defending our version of the truth. Great involves a willingness to be open to all points of view; to suspend judgement and bias in order to see a more complete picture of a situation; to embrace all possibilities, even the ones we don’t favor.

This kind of greatness takes courage. It also takes less mental effort. Instead of having to shoulder the burden of knowing all the answers, we can let the situation show us interesting and diverse data. We can be the observer of all –  for more well rounded decisions and actions that lead to better outcomes.

Awareness of our own limiting habits is a powerful tool that paves the way for greatness.

The more we open, the more we advance.

Would you rather Be Great or Be Right?


Today’s 5-minute action item – Write some notes to yourself about a situation where you absolutely knew you were right and refused to recognize opposing points of view. In reflection, how did that impact the resolution of the issue? What was the impact on your relationship with others in the situation? Was your insistence on being right helpful or a hindrance?

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