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Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing, Chris is the cofounder of Successful Workplace. He believes there’s no end to what we can change and improve. Chris is a marketing executive and flew for the US Navy before finding a home in technology 17 years ago. An avid outdoorsman, Chris is also passionate about technology and innovation and speaks frequently about creating great business outcomes at industry events. As well as being a contributor for The TIBCO Blog, Chris contributes to the Harvard Business Review, Venture Beat, Forbes, and the PEX Network. Christopher is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 274 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Dare to be wrong

03.21.2013
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How many times can you afford to be wrong at work?

In life, we are probably wrong everyday. We make wrong decisions, make a wrong bet, or say the wrong things to people. However, life keeps going and we move on pretty quickly, learning something new as we go. In love, we are often wrong as well…at least 50% of the time (and a higher percentage for men). We choose the wrong partners and again say the wrong things.

Nevertheless, being wrong in our personal lives is usually nothing a bouquet of flowers can’t fix or a sincere apology will not cure. But how many times can you be wrong at work before you are packing up your office? Your boss is not your partner and does not really want to hear your, “Sorry, babe.”

Think twice

It becomes difficult to manage when, where and how you bring up a new idea to the company with the fear that you might be wrong. So what becomes the ultimate wrong choice here? Do you keep that gem of an idea to yourself, waiting for the right moment that may never come, or do you offer them up as they arrive?

Think it through before you go around pitching it to executives. This seems to go without saying. Not having done your research makes you look foolish to the people that control your paycheck and promotions. Does your company need what you are suggesting? Is the company’s competition already doing it and can you effectively do it better? These are the questions you should be asking yourself before you look naive. But don’t be deterred, either.

Two heads are better than one

So you have this great idea, but you are dying to tell someone. Letting someone in on your idea gives it a chance to become even better. Collaborating with a coworker is the ‘team player’ way to play it.

You should know how to at least kick it off, or be very clear the resources that it will take to complete the thought. Being the big picture person is only going to get you so far because almost everyone has heard the same gut wrenching words, “That’s a great idea, Jordan. Why don’t you be the front person for that?” You’d better be ready to take on any initiative you propose. Expect it.

“You messed up”

Every one knows it only takes one, “You messed up” to wipe away a month’s worth of, “Great work.” How many chances do we get to be wrong?

There is no definite number that will force you to start your Google search of jobs. Even in Silicon Valley, few get abruptly fired without warning. So until you hear the words, “I am giving you one more chance,” you can think of every new day as a clean slate to propose and dare to be wrong.

Published at DZone with permission of Christopher Taylor, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)