Are You Really Open?

Thinking aloud here…

Throughout my career I’ve heard many professionals define themselves as lifelong learners and make reference to the fact that they don’t have all of the answers. Now, I don’t doubt the sincerity of these remarks, however, I wonder sometimes how many of us are actually open to being wrong…I mean really wrong…so wrong that you’re willing to change your mind about something you’ve made definitive remarks about perviously.

Now I get that your definitive positions are research-based, however, those that hold the opposite view likely have research to support their position as well. Okay, now what? Does research actually drive our positions/opinions or do our positions/opinions lead us to giving greater credence to the research that supports our perspective? In other words, if a series of studies points to a particular practice (one which we philosophically disagree with) as being the most favorable course of action, are we truly open & willing to be swayed or will we begin to dismiss the validity of the results or question the character/hidden agenda of the researchers themselves?

It’s one thing to say, “I don’t have all of the answers” but it’s quite another to say, “I was wrong.” No one wants to be wrong, but it would seem that the more definitive we are about a position the less likely we are to admit that maybe we got it wrong, even partially wrong. When was the last time you changed your mind about an issue? I know in this era of instant-response-140-character-definitive-provocative-followers-retweets culture it is hard to admit we were wrong as it might threaten our credibility if we’ve made a definitive statement in the past only to change our minds at a later date. In politics it’s labelled a flip-flop, which is a term I’ve come to loathe. Changing our minds as a result of new information should be seen as being mature and thoughtful, rather than being wishy-washy.

If you have ever thought/said, “I’m not always right about everything” then reflect on when exactly you were wrong and changed your mind? If we say we’re not always right – but act as if we are – then others will quickly recognize our false humility and insincerity.

Being truly open means setting aside our biases and considering new information, research, or practices with a fresh perspective………………..or not………………..after-all, I could be wrong.

…just thinking aloud.

4 thoughts on “Are You Really Open?

  1. We have to think critically for ourselves…to accommodate our own observations and integrate our opinions with the conclusions of researchers that are drawn from valid and reliable data. And we must recognize what drives our opinions.

    Who has the courage to admit that they’ve made errors in judgement? Who has the courage to admit that “they are wrong”?

    I’d say that it’s a humble professional who always wants to do the right thing, not be “right” all the time.

  2. I really appreciate this question (especially at this time of the year), which is when I usually question many things that we could have done differently for our students. Many of us, sometimes, are not that open to admit we were wrong since this would imply: to make a change.

    Why are we so resistant to change? Well, it could be fear of the unknown or the fear of having to leave our ‘comfort zones.’ In any case, opportunities of change are always a reminder of our imperfections, and yet, of our potential for embracing others’ perspectives and having faith in new beginnings …

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