Like, not just a little bit. It might actually be classified as a full-on addiction. I don’t just LOVE being right. I’m addicted to being right. I can’t stop myself. It drives me, leads me and gives me my value. “How was I right today?” is probably a question my brain asks that I don’t want to actually admit that I ask.
Another confession: I was an English major in college but I would keep an Algebra II textbook handy because I actually loved solving for “x” and getting the dopamine hit for getting the answer right.
As a leader, my “addiction to rightness” is often something that gets in the way of me achieving and accomplishing things that I want. I get positioned on a view or perception, I begin to judge or defend and I miss out on potential opportunities that could actually exist. I usually see it as a problem in myself that I need to fix and eliminate.
But here’s the thing — a deep need and a love to be right isn’t actually a problem. It’s simply the way our brains work. Another way to say it is that “it comes with the skin.” I may be a little nerdy about the way it plays out for me with solving for “x” but I absolutely know that I am not alone with how it plays out in my life and leadership.
We ALL love to be right. I could suggest, even more than we love most anything else. This is not just often true for me but for my colleagues, my direct reports, my boss, my kids, my friends. All of us. It’s not bad. It’s just how our brains are wired.
As a coach, a main piece of my job is to help people notice what it is they’re trying to be right about and invite them into the question, “Do you actually want to be right about that?”
It can look like this:
“That is going to be hard.” (Do you want to be right about that?)
“That change will take forever.” (Do you want to be right about that?)
“I don’t have enough time.” (Do you want to be right about that?)
“My team could never accomplish that.” (Do you want to be right about that?)
“I can’t make that request. They’ll probably say “no.”” (Do you want to be right about that?)
“That conversation is going to be challenging and not go well.” (Do you want to be right about that?)
You get the idea.
Here’s the deal: our brains hear our fears and our “addiction to rightness” kicks in.
Our brain then sees it as an actual problem to solve in order to make true. Your brain wants so badly for you to be right! But — I’m just not so sure we want to be right with a lot of what we say.
Which is good news. That means that if we want a different world to exist in our life and leadership that doesn’t currently exist, we can actually shift our words and begin creating something new.
Our language can begin to look like this:
“This is going to be hard,” becomes “This is going to help me grow.”
“That change will take forever,” becomes “How long would I like that change to take?”
“I don’t have enough time,” becomes “I will create the time to do what I am committed to.”
“My team could never accomplish that,” becomes “My team is able to grow into whoever we need to be in order to accomplish whatever we want to accomplish.”
“I can’t make that request. They’ll probably say “no”,” becomes “I’m going to make a bold request and whatever answer they give I will make work for me.”
“That conversation is going to be challenging and not go well,” becomes “This conversation is going to be powerful for both of us and full of possibility to learn something new.”
If we want a different world to exist in our life and leadership that doesn’t currently exist, we can actually shift our words and begin creating something new.
Again, you get the idea.
Your brain loves to be right. This isn’t a problem unless you’re giving it non-resourceful things to be right about. But it’s a massive asset if you master harnessing it for your benefit. If you’re going to be right about something, be intentional about what you are right about.
As a leader, make your rightness count. Make your words work for you.
If our words create our world — be intentional with your words to create a world that is worth creating.
Give your brain something that is worth being right about.