Willingness to Be Wrong

I’ve worked with artists who are polite and do all the “right things” when it comes to communication and collaboration (smiling, nodding, repeating notes back to show they were listening) but who still put me on edge. It’s like there’s something lurking beneath the surface that’s going to bite any second. Every suggestion feels judged, and there’s that clear sense they’re complaining to others outside of the room. It creates a really challenging environment that is not conducive to any thorough exploration of the work.

I’ve been this person, of course, and I believe a large part of it is due to an insatiable desire to be “right”. It’s the conviction that I can use my own power of deduction to boil all the complications down to a clear solution.

Then there are the amazing collaborators who feel so welcoming, who inspire people to try harder, and who effortlessly encourage everyone around them to be their authentic selves. They’re a breath of fresh air. We can all be both of those people, but I think the redeeming quality, the approach that makes the difference, is a willingness to be wrong.

I wonder, actually, if curiosity is the answer to most creative impasses.

Any process of creation worth pursuing will inevitably have its ups and downs. But if everyone remains genuinely curious, and always curious to know more about the perspectives that are confusing them, then we construct an environment with a strong base of trust. We trust people more when they ask questions.

Check in with yourself when working with others: “Am I being curious? Am I questioning my own assumptions? What can others teach me? How can I learn?”

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