How many times do you want to be wrong before
you finally accept that you’re not infallible?
I often watch some of the more cocksure folks
among us strut from one bad decision to another
while never once acknowledging their own
mistakes and errors of judgement.
The blame is often passed swiftly, scapegoats are
found and everyone is forced to accept and move
It is not easy admitting that you are full of mistakes
and blunders. But you are.
So am I. Here’s my own mea culpa . I have been
wrong, egregiously, painfully wrong, all of my life. I
have made many woeful mistakes at many
junctures, mistakes I look back on with shame and
I have misjudged people, misjudged myself,
misjudged situations, misjudged diagnoses,
misjudged strategies. And some of those
misjudgements have left me, and others, in
I have also realised this: that I am not done with
making mistakes. I still make them, and will
continue making them. The only thing I can hope
for is to not repeat the same mistakes over and
over; and to reduce their frequency as well.
So, one face of the coin of my life is a sheepish,
rueful one. But flip it over, and there’s another face:
a calmer, happier face that knows it’s doing the
best it can, is learning as it goes along and is
getting a little wiser, no matter how painfully.
That’s all of us: the face of foolishness and the face
of wisdom are always connected. Flip them over,
In your moment of great achievement, when you
are wallowing in self-regard, the fool in you is just
on the other side, waiting to flip forward; and when
you are at your most miserable, wondering how
you could have been so stupid, is exactly when the
wisdom in you is growing.
We are human, after all, and fallibility is in our
But wait: why do so many folks out there think they
are exempt from this essence? I listen to some of
the bigwigs around us, and it is as though they’ve
never erred in their lives.
In this self-inflated myth, their careers are a
procession of excellent decisions and whatever
setbacks have been encountered are the work of
assorted enemies and motley incompetents. You
are never at fault; it’s always them.
This is known as getting high on your own supply.
This disease does seem to affect the higher
echelons of society disproportionately. If you’re
rich, it appears you expect universal respect —
even if your riches have been plundered from
public funds intended for sick orphans.
If you are chairing some organisation, you seem to
expect that the very fact of being appointed to that
position elevates you in society — even if you are a
And if you’ve won some minor election, you seem
to imagine that the world loves you like a messiah.
The young are not immune to the sickness either.
On social media, you can encounter loudmouths
brimming with bizarre confidence on every idiotic
pronouncement they make, shooting out sure-fire
opinions and cast-iron certainties on every other
damn issue in the world.
Whoa! Who appointed you god? For as long as you
were born of earthly mothers, you’re defective, full
stop. You’re as limited and error-prone and hollow
as the rest of us, whether you admit it or not.
Shakespeare put it quite aptly: “The fool doth think
he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a
The purportedly wise who refuse to see themselves
for what they truly are, are truly the fools amongst
us. Ignore and avoid them, for they bring only
misery to the world. Embrace the truly self-
effacing; they’ve figured out their own foolishness,
and become wise in the process.