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Being Certain Doesn’t Mean You’re Right

March 9, 2023

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is so convinced that the capital of Australia is Sydney (or some other blatantly false belief) that they’re willing to bet money on it, only to later realize that they’re wrong? Maybe you’ve even been “that” person yourself. While this may be nothing more than a minor embarrassment on an individual level, it can be a disaster on an organizational level. 

Here’s why you should embrace growth and uncertainty instead. 

The problem with being certain 
In some scenarios, being certain can get you a long way. Impostor syndrome isn’t going to get you anywhere in life, while “faking it until you make it” or having unwavering self-belief is what many successful people say helps them to reach the top. Sometimes, confidence in yourself makes others believe in you too, which can be helpful for landing impressive job positions or investment for your business.  

But at some point, it will hold you back. 

Why? Because if you believe that you are always right, then by default, you think everyone else is always wrong. One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to “seek first to understand” instead of putting your point across instead of listening to others. This is all about listening to alternative viewpoints instead of making assumptions, and remaining open to learning. 

If you think you know everything worth knowing, you won’t be open to new ideas. As a result, you’ll be unable to embrace innovation, stay on top of trends in your industry, and keep your business ahead of the curve. All of this could bring about the demise of your company. 

You might be sure you’re using the best of technology today, but you can rest assured it will no longer be the best technology forever. And since it’s impossible for one person to monitor every aspect of their business and operations, your best bet is to listen to suggestions from others. 

How to be less certain
So, what’s the alternative? Opening yourself up to other possibilities instead of being fixed and unmovable. 

If you’re a manager or an executive, work on changing how you interact with others in your organization. Ask your team for their input on the tasks they carry out every day and the direction of the company, and especially new hires or younger employees (who tend to have the freshest perspectives). For instance, you could create ways to give everyone an opportunity to speak in team meetings.  

Ideally, it shouldn’t just be you becoming more open — aim to embed the value into your organization’s culture. For instance, you might make it compulsory for managers to have a one-on-one meeting with the people they manage every six months to give all employees a chance to share their perspectives. 

Bring in a third party 
It’s easy to say that the solution is simply “becoming more open” — but it’s not always as easy as waving a magic wand. If you’ve been locked in one way of thinking for a long time, it can be hard to switch things up. Especially if you’ve built your leadership style and organizational culture around it, which could make your team less reluctant to share their true perspectives. 

This is where bringing in a third party like a consultant can be so helpful. On one hand, they’ll be able to give you a fresh perspective and offer tangible improvements you may have shut out previously. These concern four crucial areas: 

  • People — how engaged, productive, and satisfied your team are 
  • Processes — the tasks and operations your company carries out 
  • Technology — software and automation that could improves these operations 
  • Customer services — how well your operations look after customers 

They’ll also be able to liaise with your team and get their feedback on both current processes and suggested alternatives, ensuring you get honest opinions. 

Ready to open up? 
Successful businesses are more like bodies of water than statues made of concrete — they should be ever-moving and able to adapt to different environments. And if the aim is adaptability and innovation, it’s almost impossible to achieve it if you’re convinced you’re always right. 

If you need an extra push to embrace a more open approach, we’re here to help at Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting. As a business operations consulting firm, our aim is to help companies improve their foundations through better processes. To find out more about what we can offer, contact us to book a free consultation.