The Best Medicine – finding out you are wrong.

By Keith Coats  

The Problem:

My team (or even as an individual) we / I have difficulty admitting when I am wrong. I have come to realise that this unhelpful intransigence is putting a handbrake on our (my) ability to challenge orthodoxies, to unlearn and accept ownership of things that aren’t working and then doing something about them.

The Solution:

Develop an understanding that to admit error or being wrong about something is medicine. When we are sick we all want something that can help restore health – we all want ‘our medicine’ even although it is often something that isn’t easy on the pallet!

Consciously determine to be quick to admit when you are wrong. When you find yourself being defensive start an internal conversation with yourself as to why you need to ‘be right’ on the subject being discussed. What would happen if you ‘let go’ your position? Put another way this all about ‘being open’ which is something often spoken about but not as easy to actually practice. A way of developing a greater degree of openness is to be ready to admit error or hold lightly your viewpoint.

‘There can be no better medicine than finding out you are wrong’ was a sentence that forcibly grabbed my attention as I read Terry Pratchett’s wonderful novel, Nation. It altogether serves as a stark challenge, an invitation and a gateway to growth.

Admit your wrongness. Make this something that becomes part of your team culture and determines how to lead the way. It would be worth acknowledging that this something that is easier for some than for others.


Find someone you know that exemplifies this unusual quality. Watch how they to it. Perhaps even ask them about it and see if it might have been something they at some point intentionally developed. Be curious about this quality to have noted and it will lead to some good and affirming conversation.

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