As long as I am bumbling around — stumbling in the dark, unable to land, asking the wrong questions for honest reasons — I think I am probably going in the right direction. Experience and historical precedence suggest that I am at my most dangerous when I think I’ve got everything figured out.
Josh Ducharme posted a few thoughts about best practices the other day that got me thinking.
The concept of a ‘best practice’ is both critically important and insidiously limiting. Once you know you are conducting your work under parameters set by best practices, why bother being critical, curious, or interrogating the efficacy of your practice further? Logically, what can top ‘the best’?
In truth, I think we can agree that best practices evolve all the time. (Exhibit A: the history of medicine.) We call some practices the ‘best’ in a temporal sense: they are only the best right now, and it is nonsense to imagine that any given practice today will necessarily hold its grip on the throne of ‘bestness’ forever. A more honest label would be: as-good-as-we’ve-got-so-far practices.
Just because a protocol or procedure wins the label of ‘best practice’ ought not mean that it is no longer subject to scrutiny.
The fear of being wrong is a monumental obstacle to learning. Herein lies the persistent inclination to keep one’s opinions to oneself for fear of being proven wrong. And here is the home of close-mindedness: the union of identity and defensiveness.
In a way, learning is what happens when you end up agreeing with people who disagree with you. Growth requires a steadfast commitment to pivot and adapt. An eagerness to learn demands the willingness to lose an argument on occasion. In fact, sometimes the best debates are the ones that are lost.
Learning requires the defeat of old ideas.
‘Being wrong’ sometimes is critically important.
So celebrate beliefs that have long revision histories. Yearn for the acute sensation of being wrong. Subject everything you believe to scrutiny, eager to discover what buckles under the pressure. Test it. And test it again. And when you can’t sustain a position any longer, revel in its demise, as you move on to critique other beliefs with newfound perspective.
‘Being wrong’ can be one of the best parts of being alive.