To Be or Not To Be Right: Does It Even Matter?! [With Video]

Written by Darren Kanthal

December 27, 2023

right wrong

Video Transcription:

Alright, I’ve got a few questions for you.

You can either think about the answers or, if you’re so inclined, you could put them in the comments.

Is there a right way to squeeze a tube of toothpaste?

Is there a right way to put on a roll of toilet paper?

Is there a right way of loading the dishwasher?

Now, if you answered yes to any of those questions, does it really matter? Why does it matter about the “right way”? Who’s to say your way is right, and my way is wrong – if I do it differently? And I’m thinking a lot about this question.

A Story About Being Right

Earlier in my career, I thought I had to be right. It was important that my ideas, my opinions, my perspectives, my way of doing things, had to be right.

The reason was because I was deeply insecure and didn’t know it. By all outward appearances, you would assume that I’m an otherwise confident and self-assured guy, for the most part. And yet, that need to be right was the underlying condition for me to feel like I was worthy.

And as I’ve learned, in my ripe old age, that being right is less important to me now. And really, what I want at certain times is to maximize the effort or maximize the performance. But so long as we’re maximizing what needs to get done, why does it matter the way? For a brand new tube of toothpaste —- if I just squeeze it, it’s going to come out? But as it starts to get less and less, yes, I’m going to roll it from the end or squeeze from the end because that’s going to maximize their performance.

If I load the dishwasher one way, by putting the bowls in the back and the plates in the front, and you do it the other way, or maybe you put the bowls in the top drawer, but we both get the same amount of stuff into the dishwasher… Why does it matter?

Getting To The Root Cause Of Why You Need To Be Right

The reason I bring this up is, I talk to a lot of people, that it’s real important for them to be right. And as we dig deeper, it’s usually because of some sort of personal thing. It’s important for them to be right because of the self-opinion, the self-image, it’s how they think and feel about themselves that’s really tied up to being right. And if we can figure out what it is that we’re trying to overcome – maybe it’s an insecurity or a lack of self-assurance, or whatever it is – if you can get to the root cause of why being right is so important to you, maybe we can let go a little bit.

Maybe we can free up some mental energy instead of fighting all the time about being right about stuff that really doesn’t matter, then maybe we can focus on topics of more importance.

So, my challenge to you is to be aware of why you need to be right. And does it really matter?

Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.


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