I wrote a few days back that being wrong is not so wrong. In fact, I argued that a healthy dose of skepticism is good in a lot of situations. Being wrong is also needed for innovation.
What about being right? The question is not so much that being right is important but it’s about believing in yourself enough that you are right.
Henry ford said – "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right!" Believing that you are right is the first step towards action.
Believing in yourself is important. We are taught from childhood, that being wrong is somehow not OK. In addition to that, teachers in school constantly give feedback when you are wrong. I remember many times the teachers told me I was wrong, when in fact, they themselves were wrong. Self-doubt is something that’s constantly fed to us from childhood. It’s no wonder 90% of the people go around with self-doubts and look for confirmation from outside to know their self-worth. It’s tough to believe that you are right when it matters. But it’s very important that each of us does.
A Young man from India in South Africa in the year 1893, gets into a first class compartment on a train with a valid ticket. The conductor throws him out on to the platform because colored people can only travel in 3rd class, even though this poor man has a valid ticket. He decides to protest, but all his Indian friends advise him to ignore it. This type of discrimination happened to a lot of them and they all ignored it and went about their lives. But everyone says it’s wrong or it’s not the right thing to do, does the injustice become right? It so happens this was no ordinary young man. The British inadvertently started something that they had no control over. This was a Young man named Mohandas K Gandhi. Gandhi had a strong conviction that the right thing is not to ignore but to protest the laws that discriminate. He also believed the right process for the protest is through non-violence. He knew he was right and he believed in himself so much that the movement he started there and later in India culminated in Independence for India and the end of the British Empire. He became Mahatma – "Great Soul".
Einstein, was bold enough to follow his hypothesis that light speed in vacuum is constant and all other physical laws emanate from that. This required a strong conviction that he was right. What followed was the special theory of relativity that changed the way we we view the world.
Galileo, Copernicus, Newton among various scientists that fundamentally changed science by having faith that they are right. Darwin’s theory of evolution was a huge leap of faith in his days. It was a leap of faith in his own abilities to not be influenced by the "faith". But if Darwin did not believe in himself and published is Origin of Species, how long would we have had to wait for the theory of natural selection, subsequent theories like evolution etc. to be discovered?
What sets apart an entrepreneur from an engineer is this ability to believe in themselves in spite of the fact that the whole world believes you are wrong.
Believing in yourself also makes you an optimistic person. Miriam Webster dictionary has two definitions for the word "optimism".
1. Believing this world is the best possible world.
2. An inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome
For being an optimist you have to believe in yourself and the world around you.
When you look at it closely, believing you are right is in one sense complementary to being open to being wrong. In both the cases, you need to have the open mind to challenge the status-quo. Be open to explore the possibilities of running counter to the popular belief. When you are certain that there is a possibility that your point of view even though opposed to the current thinking or beliefs, believe in yourself. See it through.
Those who are bold enough to believe in themselves to be right and are not afraid of being wrong, will achieve great things. More often than not they have the ability to change science and may be, history.