I can’t take credit for the title of this post. I saw it in my Facebook feed a couple of weeks ago (hey, Kelly), and it stuck with me. “Do you want to be right, or do you want to learn something?” At the core of that question is a lot to unpack, and something that I think we all struggle with as people each day on many levels.
Question: “Do You Want to be Right, or… ?”
I don’t know where Kelly got the question from. Knowing him, I assumed it was either wisdom straight from his brain or a meaningful quote from a movie he’d seen at some point or a book he’d read.
When I checked for the phrasing on Google, I came across an interesting-looking piece of yesteryear internet from 2002 by H. Roice Nelson, Jr. with the spectacularly appropriate and evergreen title “Do you want to be right, or …?”. That post phrased the “Do you want to be right…” prefix multiple ways, some of which included:
Do you want to be right, or do you want to be rich?
Do you want to be right, or do you want a relationship?
Do you want to be right, or do you want to be timely?
Do you want to be right, or do you want to have a partner?
Do you want to be right, or do you want to learn something?
Do you want to be right, or do you want to lost weight?
The question can pop up in many forms, and once I heard it – I find myself asking the titular question over and over again in different interactions.
Same Story, Different Day
I thought I had touched on the idea that…
…before on this blog, but doing a quick search – doesn’t look like it. Still, the subject of THIS post definitely falls into that category of a lesson I’ve repeated again and again and again and again (you get the point). I know that I’ve gotten better at things along the way, but I also know that I’m constantly tested with this one.
How many relationships did I have that didn’t work because I wanted to be right? How many friendships did I let go because I wanted to be right? How many opportunities did I let go by… Experiences did I miss out on… Rewards did I not gain… All because I wanted to be right vs. pursue what I really valued more out of the exchange?
In truth, I don’t know the answer to those questions. I try to live a life without regret, so I’m not really one to catalog such things mentally – but I know they have to have happened before because the root question feels all too familiar.
You can apply the thought behind this question to nearly every aspect of your life. Think about your ties to your coworkers. Think about your faith. Think about the time you spend interacting with family members.
What are you sacrificing just to be right at times?
What things have you learned in moments when you decided NOT to be right?
I don’t have answers in this post, only a word of encouragement to you to take the time to breathe and really think about what you’re wanting from your interactions, exchanges, and tradeoffs in life. I personally think too many people value being “right” in a lot of instances, and I know that I’ve been one to make that mistake in the past.
I get better at recognizing “the true goal” (whatever that may be) with each passing day, but I also know that I falter. Decide if you’d rather be right, or learn something, folks.