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saying I was wrong

I was meeting with a local leader recently and he asked me what I thought about an issue he was considering.  He had taken a stance that I didn’t agree with.  I had kept my opinion to myself up to that point.  But he asked me…so I opened up.  I always tell people that “my two cents is free.”  And since he had asked me, I REALLY told him!

Don’t get me wrong, I was respectful.  But I was direct.  He was thoughtful.  He asked questions.  But for those most part, he simply listened.

In the end he said, “I have been thinking about this all the wrong way.”

In other words he said “I was wrong.”  And in that moment, I gained respect for him.

So often as leaders we feel like we have to have all of the answers.  We need to chart a course for our team and “stay that course” and have the “courage of our convictions.”   We need to be strong and confident and determined.  But what happens when the information changes?  What happens when the course we charted is no longer working?

And this is not just for leaders.  So often, as humans, we establish an opinion or view of the world, and then move on.   Often, we don’t re-examine these positions.  The world changes…but do we?  And if we do notice that change, doesn’t that make us weak to change our opinion?  We hear people talk about politicians changing their position and we call them “flip floppers.”  This is silly and small minded.  The world evolves and so should we.  It doesn’t make us weak, it makes us wise.

In that moment, when he said “I was wrong,” that man gained my respect.  He was able to listen.  He took the opportunity to get new information.  Then he acted on that information.  That is what true leadership looks like.

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