Pesky wasps and being right

by  Jane Perdue  |  Leadership Development

choose being kindThe three of us were chatting in the break room, catching up and munching  croissants from the bakery on the corner.

“Sounds like last night’s event was terrific,” sighed Fran. “I wish I’d been invited.”

“Me, too,” I replied.

“Both of you were invited,” Penny asserted vigorously. “I sent you an email invitation but neither of you responded.”

“Strange, I don’t recall receiving that email…”

Fran jumped in over me, “If I had received it, I would have signed up immediately, Penny. You must have omitted my name from the distribution list.”

“Look, I sent it. If you two didn’t read it, Then. That’s. Your. Problem.” Penny said with a dismissive toss of her head.


Have you ever been in Penny’s spot—absolutely certain you’ve done your part and equally certain it’s the other guy who dropped the ball? I know I sure have.

Fortunately a couple major blunders where I clearly owned the hot seat of screw-up responsibility taught me to pause and check. Business rewards leaders who have the right answer; however there’s a big difference between being confidently right and arrogantly, self-righteously right when you’re obviously wrong.

Like pesky wasps buzzing circles around us, people who act as if they were the sole expert on a subject put us on edge. In halls of learning where we least expect to find it, in governments, in religious temples, in businesses, in marriages and families, dogmatism is the arrogant voice of certainty that closes the mind, damages relationships, and threatens peaceful coexistence on this planet.  ~ Dr. Judy J. Johnson

Stepping back from needing to be right is something you have to want to correct. Many times the need to be right is based on the fear of being wrong. Courage, character, humility, and wisdom all play a role in overcoming that fear.

There’s liberation to be had in giving up always being right. Summon the courage and character to admit uncertainty.

There’s joy to be had in saying I’m not sure but I’ll find out. Embrace the humility and vulnerability that makes you strong enough to say that.

There’s personal growth to be had in saying let’s find out together. Have the wisdom to make it so.

About The Author

Articles By jane-perdue
Jane is a leadership futurist and well-mannered maverick who challenges stereotypes, sacred cows, gender bias & how we think about power. She loves chocolate, TED, writing, kindness, paradox and shoes.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Mary C Schaefer  |  18 Mar 2014  |  Reply

Great post, Jane. Loved the story and the quotation too.

Not that I don’t have my know-it-all moments, but I do remember a time when I started a new assignment as an HR Generalist. One of the members of the leadership team I served called me with a question. I answered with exactly what you suggested in your post, “I’m not sure but I’ll find out.” It’s interesting what you describe as humility and strength some people see as weakness. I had been warned against admitting I didn’t know. I took the chance anyway… I guess being authentic IS a risk for some people. FORTUNATELY, in this case, the leadership team member responded with, “It is so refreshing to hear someone say that.” That was the start of a relationship based on trust.

Thanks again for raising this up, Jane.

Jane Perdue  |  21 Mar 2014  |  Reply

Mary — great story of strength and bonding that you shared! I hope others who read this are inspired by your experience to do the same! Thanks much for sharing!

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