Derek Sivers

Programmer, writer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

I love being wrong

Most of the time I feel smart, successful, and driven - like I’ve got it all figured out.

But last month a bunch of stuff knocked me on my ass. I’ve never felt so wrong.

I vulnerably called on friends for help.

Each different perspective made me feel good for a while, then I’d fall back into the whirlpool of destructive thoughts.

Whenever something’s wrong in my life, I’ve asked myself this amazing question:

“What’s great about this?”

But now my only answer was, “Nothing. This just sucks.” I tried asking it again every day or two, but the answer was the same. Down the whirlpool I went.

After moping at the bottom of the ocean for a few weeks, I got a bright memory from my former self.

I actually love being wrong, even though it cracks my confidence, because that’s the only time I learn.

I actually love being lost, even though it fuels fears, because that’s when I go somewhere unexpected.

I pursue these things in small digestable doses. I love little lessons that surprise my expectations and change my mind. This is why I aim to make my TED talks surprising. If we’re not surprised, we’re not learning.

But I finally answered “What’s great about this?”:

Getting knocked on my ass made me humble as hell. It’s been years since I’d called for help. It’s been years since my cup was so empty. It’s been years since I was so open to advice.

I smiled, thinking of how much I’ve learned from my friends these past few weeks. I realized how ultimately happy it makes me to be so empty, even if it really hurts at first. It’s better than thinking I’ve got it all figured out.

And with that, the sun came up and the whirlpool went away.

Thank you life. Thank you friends.

(Photo by David O’Hare.)