Would you rather be right or real?
Right, you’d rather be both.
But in this life, we must choose.
Until fairly recently, I spent my life trying to be right.
To choose being right led to constantly being on the lookout for people who might accuse me of being wrong. Being right required that I put on a knowing face even when I had no idea what the hell was going on (which was often). Being right meant I needed to attack, belittle, or ridicule opinions that didn’t align with my right views.
The many years I spent pursuing rightness made me as asshole.
But more interestingly (and ironically), my obsession with being right—and letting you know how right I was—led to my being less right about more stuff than if I’d not worried about being right at all.
The person focused on being right wants you to think they already know everything, which leads to a reluctance to ask questions. Why ask questions when you already know everything?
Which brings me to the benefits of focusing on being real.
One benefit is that focusing on authenticity conserves time and energy wasted in maintaining a facade, a never-ending game that never gets easier and chips away at my spirit every day.
A pursuit of authenticity also allows me to approach the world with curiosity. The curious mind has questions and seeks to learn more about this amazing world we find ourselves occupying. Learning new things nourishes not only our minds, but our spirits as well.
The more we learn, the more likely we are to gain perspectives that might be worthy of being called “right.” But the more real I get, the less I care about being right in the first place. Because being right suggests a finality that I know is an illusory fiction.
Kurt Vonnegut, in his wonderful book Man Without a Country, said that he’s come to believe that he’s always just becoming. He’ll never get to the point of being a finished product.
That’s the perspective of a man who knows who he is. And my guess is that the amazing books he wrote during his long life were a direct product of that mentality.
I don’t know what I’m capable of when I prioritize realness over rightness, but I’ve got a much better chance of finding out what I’m capable of when I pursue authenticity.