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There is Nothing Wrong with Being Wrong

What is so awful about being wrong? I'm wrong all the time.

I spend a lot of my time with clients and those with whom I work listening to why something went wrong. It's exhausting, and usually as the 'why' gets longer and longer and more passionate in voice, it appears that nothing was a mistake at all. The deadly deed was something totally out of anyone's control, which we all know is right in line with fake news.

To be fair, which is never my first go-to position, I used to be the same way.

Then, in the early 90s, I saw George Soros on Charlie Rose. You might remember him as having brought down the English currency in the early 90s. But he also lost a billion dollars in one day - betting against or for (who can remember) the Japanese yen. (Before you send him a sympathy check, he made it back within months. But I digress.) Charlie Rose kept asking him about the fund losing money in the first half of the year. <Click here for the interview. It's the first five minutes or so.>

George was so damn comfortable with the loss - and being wrong. Even though Charlie keeps trying to revisit it, Soros never goes to the why, just concentrates on the future and that they were wrong. "We didn't get it right," he says over and over again, without any seeming upset. I loved seeing the lack of fear, or even regret, in the wrong. I never saw anyone with that kind of approach to error. And, I learned the lesson.

Charlie, I'm sure, was used to financial titans giving all the reasons that their assumptions were right but something else - over which they had little control - took them off the winning path. Soros, who couldn't care less about being right, didn't look for excuses - he's much more consumed with winning the long game. He was already on to the next thing. His team was wrong and let's move on.

Stanley Druckenmiller, who worked with Soros, once said, "I've learned many things from George Soros, but perhaps the most significant is that it's not whether you are right or wrong, but how much money you make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong."

There is nothing wrong with being wrong. Think long game. Own the mistake. Embrace the mistake. Say it out loud, to yourself and your client, and then get it right in a bigger way the next time. It's cathartic. It works. It puts into perspective mistakes. This is true for us all, unless you are a brain surgeon, which means you are not reading this anyway.

--Christine Merser, Blue Shoe Strategy

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