I am not the first person to say this and, to be honest, it has been said enough times by enough people that it no longer feels like it must be proven. Our society regards being wrong in a negative way. Most of us are brought up like this, with big red X’s when we get an answer wrong, embarrassment if we can’t figure out a mathematical sum in our head, even on a sports field.
You’ll see when a rugby player drops the ball teammates will often come and pat him on the back. The message: don’t worry about it, shake it off, on with the game. That’s what you do with teammates, you can’t blame each other, you need to trust and you need everyone to maintain confidence. However, this can be framed in another way, the message really being: “You just messed up, but I won’t hold it against you.” Sounds okay, right? Except the principal communication in that message: “You just messed up.” Not what you want to hear after just messing up.
If I am out, at a bar, talking with someone about World War II and get the month of the year it started in and be corrected, I will probably feel embarrassed (on a side note, I am aware it is quite debatable when World War II actually started). I’ll feel embarrassed, but I’ve actually just learnt something. I should be proud. I’ve increased my knowledge, or I’ve correct wrong ideas. I’ve grown. In some infintisibly small way, I am now a better contributor to society. One obscure fact about history may not make this apparent, but hundreds of ideas and thoughts over a lifetime will.
The point is, if we had more courage to fail, or to be wrong, we may learn and discover more things – not only personally, but as a society.
This is where creativity come in. Broadly, creating can be viewed as one phase of ideation where as many ideas are thought of as possible, then one phase of analysis and selection where they are analysed and applied (This is a loose description of what is known as the Geneplore model, see: Sternberg, R.J. (1999) Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge University Press, p 193). The courage to make mistakes, and be wrong and do things differently and find our for yourself why something doesn’t work gives us fuel to create these ideas.
It is as Judkins says in his book The Art of Creative Thinking: Plan to have more accidents (p110).
Feature image courtesy of Kerrie