Friday, July 23, 2010

I Am Never Wrong

My mother once gave me a shirt that said "You can either agree with me or be wrong." I thought it was funny because I was rather proud of that aspect of my personality. Arica didn't think it was funny because living with someone like that is a pain.

It turns out Arica was right. That type of attitude isn't funny.

Since I became a father I have spent a good amount of time evaluating myself. I have taken time to look more closely at my strengths and weaknesses.  I have never been one to admit my weakness or vulnerability before, but now it is not just about me. If I am not careful all my bad habits will become Braden's. I need to change my bad habits and set a good example. This is important because I want Braden to be a better man than me.

Upon reflection it's very clear that I have always thought I was right in every situation. I would argue and correct people. I wouldn't accept that someone else might be right. It never entered my mind. I am often still like this, but I am trying to change. The problem with figuring this out (with loving help from Arica) after having Braden is that change has to come quickly. If I am unable to change my actions Braden will surely mimic them regardless of what I tell him. Actions speak louder than words.

I am trying to change because I don't want Braden to always think he is right. I do want him to have confidence in his decisions and in his knowledge. I don't want him to second guess himself. I just want him to listen to others and be open minded without arguing every single point with everyone. This behavior is not only annoying, but it causes other problems as well.

The first problem with feeling you always have to be right is that it limits creativity. I have a black and white view of the world. This leads me to thought patterns of right or wrong with no in between. If someone is doing something different than me then it must be wrong.

That is a terribly limiting way to see the world. There is obviously more than one way to skin a cat. The truly successful people in the world are always looking for new ways to do things. They listen to every idea and determine if it is good or bad based solely on its merit not on its relationship to previous ideas. I want Braden to be confident of himself and his work, but not to the point of arrogance. Arrogance leads to close mindedness, and we all know that is a bad thing.

The other major problem that results from an obsession with being right is the development of a fear of being wrong. This often manifests as a fear of failure.  I often found this problem with myself. At times in my life I was afraid to speak out or to try something new because I couldn't stand to look stupid. I couldn't bear it if I was wrong or worse terribly wrong and inadequate. A fear of failure not only limits success, but it also limits how much fun you can have in your life.

So I am working on my way of thinking. I hope I am able to show Braden how to consider all people's viewpoints and ways of doing things. I hope I can help him become open minded. It is my dream that he becomes a man with no fear of failure, like that man Teddy Roosevelt once spoke about in this famous quote:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


Tim Riley said...

Well said, I can totally relate to your feelings in this post. i don't want my kids to have my faults either-that's one of the great challenges of parenting.

Katherine said...

This is a well-written, well-said post. I completely relate, as I'm trying to change some things about myself that I don't want Ethan to pick up either. It's funny how kids have a way of making us face things we never even thought about before we had them!

PJ Mullen said...

It isn't easy to admit you've failed at something. When I started up my blog I used "professional failure" in my bio as a tongue in cheek way of accepting that I'd made far too many mistakes in my professional career. It has taken a lot of time, and a good deal of reflection, but I'm finally comfortable with the fact that the mistakes I've made have led to the life I have. I guess everything happens for a reason and you've got to stay flexible and keep options open. Which, ironically enough, sounds a lot like how you have to parent.

John Porcaro said...

Great job on being a good example. I love your line of thinking in this post, and wrote about it in my blog. Well done.