Don’t Be Afraid To Be Wrong

by | Aug 25, 2022 | Leadership

Leaders, we can’t be afraid to be wrong!  

What does it look like when we’re scared to make mistakes and be wrong? It starts with only sharing the positive news with our teams. That’s a big mistake, which I learned early in my career when I did that. I didn’t trust that my team could handle bad news. I thought they’d panic, get scared and maybe even leave. 

The Founder of Service Express challenged me to share the news and tell my team everything. How is your team supposed to help you if you don’t share the good and the bad? If bad news scares someone away, they aren’t the right team member for you. Don’t be afraid to share the bad news! People see right through that and will start not to trust you.  

When you’re afraid to be wrong, you’ll also get analysis paralysis. We research and research and research, but we’re afraid to put something out there because we’re scared it will be wrong. Almost everything we put out there for the first time is wrong. As I discussed in my blog, “Measuring With Models,” I’ve learned that all models are wrong, but some are useful. Right?  

You aren’t going to be right all the time. When you execute something in the real world, it will look different. Things will happen, and you’ll need to adjust. You need to be ready to do that. So, leaders, don’t be afraid to be wrong.  

When people are scared to be wrong, they get that paralysis, which will cripple your team. They won’t make progress, learn or develop, and won’t stretch themselves. When you don’t want to be wrong, you make easy goals because you know you’ll achieve them.  

When you’re not afraid to be wrong, you’ll make stretch goals you’re unsure how to achieve. You’ll aim for that even though you don’t know how to get there. Jim Collins calls these stretch goals BHAGs, meaning big scary audacious goals. We use this term all the time at Service Express. We don’t always need to make BHAGs, but we need to make stretch goals. Why make a goal that you know you’re going to accomplish? That doesn’t inspire anybody, but people do that when they’re scared to hit the target.  

As leaders, we need to make it safe for our teams to put goals out there that they might not be able to hit. We need to make it okay for them to make mistakes and be wrong. When you only share the positives and make easy goals, it shows a lack of confidence that won’t inspire your teams. I shared these traits and characteristics because I want you to look in the mirror, reflect and ask yourself, “Am I doing any of that?”  

Sometimes when we’re full of confidence and have momentum on our side, we’ll do all these things and make stretch goals. Other times when things aren’t going our way, we’ll pull back and play it way too safe. In the end, that’s not how you win.  

Look at these things, and don’t be scared to be wrong or make mistakes. Instead, put big goals out there, inspire your team and get after it! 

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About Me

I am the President & CEO of Service Express, a National Best & Brightest Company to Work For. Service Express has averaged double digit growth every year since 2001.

We attribute our success to a unique corporate culture that we call The Service Express Way. I am a member of the Young President Organization and sit on the Board of the Spectrum Health Foundation.