Why Intentions and Outcomes Trump Being Right Every Time

I recently I watched my husband and daughter have a disagreement. It wasn’t over anything major, but it caused a lot of upset. She was preparing for a speech, and my husband was giving her feedback. Let’s just say, it was not very well received. And as I watched my daughter, it was like looking back in time at myself.

You see, she places heavy importance on being right. And so did I. For a very long time.

I remember as a kid, a young adult, and then a not-so-young adult carrying around a stubborn streak. A determination that I would not be told. A mindset that I would be right, even when I wasn’t. For much of my life, it was the “winning” during arguments that would trump an actual solution.

What is so ironic is that by having such rigid rules around being right, I actually lost out on so much. I ignored valuable, wise advise, missed out on massive opportunities to learn from others, and I created self-imposed limits on possibilities, ideas and perspectives.

It is only recently that I have realised how destructive this attachment to “rightness” can be for all relationships – professional or personal. How easily we become focused on the idea that a lack of agreement is equal to being wrong. How quick we are to close ourselves off to the thoughts of others, strictly to avoid being perceived as incorrect.

Consider the benefits of becoming less attached to being right, and more aligned with intention and outcome.

Here are three ways this shift will sustain and support you:

  1. Intentional, outcome-driven communication

\Within communication, I am able to manage my ego by consistently asking myself these two questions. For what purpose am I in this conversation? And what do I want to come of it? When we focus on this, we don’t have to focus on being right. We don’t have to get scorecards out. We don’t have to win at the expense of others. We simply have clarity around our intentions and this means we can tap into being flexible about how to get there. How much better is that?

  1. Improved ability to see possibilies

When we can’t see options, we often become stuck. When we are stuck on being right, our minds close and possibilities become finite. If we can loosen our attachment to being right, this can create a renewed sense of wonder, curiosity and creativity. What if our “right” isn’t the only one? What if we can well and truly open up to alternatives that may actually be – well, right-er? What if by simply separating being right from our self worth, we can open up possibilities that we would have never seen?

With possibility comes choice. With choice, we have a massively greater chance of actually having the outcome we want. If you let your ego trump the perspectives of others, you create self-imposed limits. You only see what fits into the mold of your rightness. Just think what you may be missing.

  1. Happiness

Ok, so this may sound flimsy, and perhaps a bit overdone, yet there is overwhelming evidence that when we release ourselves from the burden of being right, simply for the sake of it, life is,…well, happier. And it makes sense – open-minded communication and limitless possibility is a much happier place to live than score keeping and enclosed boxes.   When our mindset becomes solution focused, we can make decisions that are connected to what we want to happen so that we get to feel happy, contented, satisfied, at peace – whatever it is for you. And to me, happiness will always trump smugness of useless victory.

Let me go back to the incident with my hubby and child. The disagreement really had nothing to do with who was more “right”, but rather a lack of understanding on what each person wanted to achieve during the conversation.   My daughter’s intention was to practice her speech, and the outcome she wanted was a whole lot of praise. Fair enough. My husband’s intention was to listen and then advise, and the outcome he wanted was to support and challenge her to be and do her absolute best. Fair enough.

And what is awesome is that after we talked about this, she got it. Maybe she didn’t like it, and she certainly wouldn’t admit it, but she got it. And I didn’t need to be recognised as right to know that the resolution we achieved was a good one.

So ask yourself – are you allowing your attachment to being right trump everything else? What can you change, right now?

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