Being wrong is right for creativity

“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” – James Joyce.

Too often the fear of failure–of being wrong, of missing the mark, or of embarrassing ourselves–prevents us from uncovering creative ideas. Even when the likelihood of insight is high and the result of discovering that insight could be big for us.

We “play it safe” as a result of fearing a negative outcome from our actions or explorations.

This fear is natural, particularly in cultures like that of America where we’re taught from an early age to cherish “right” answers and avoid anything that might be “wrong.”

But the best creative insights come when we embrace the possibility of failure and view our actions not as something with a right or wrong, but as an experiment.

Work to be wrong, creative author Paul Arden says, and you’re likely to uncover everything those who are too afraid of exploration are missing. In his book, It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be Arden writes:

“Being right is being boring. Your mind is closed. You are not open to new ideas. You are rooted in your own rightness, which is arrogant…So it’s wrong to be right.”

Exactly how can we get past the difficulty of acknowledging that it’s right to be wrong if we want to discover new possibilities?

Over on The Creativity Workshop, Shelley Berc explains that possibly the most ideal method for fueling creativity in moments of doubt is to simply dive-into the creativity and exploration without thinking much about what it is you’re diving into:

“The creating comes first and the analyzing later. That leaves the creator in a place of uncertainty, an exhilarating position for a creator, but a situation our inner critic can’t stand—a good reason for her to stay out of our way at this point in the creative process. Creativity thrives on uncertainty. If we always knew the outcome of our creative endeavors we would probably be too bored to complete them.”

The next time you find yourself pausing before taking on an endeavor where new discoveries would benefit you, remind yourself that being right is boring and dive-in anyway.