Avoid “Get it Right” Disease

Don’t Get Sick

There is a disease called “get it right.”

The symptoms:

  • Fear of change
  • ” We’ve always done it this way.”
  • Over-reliance on “safety.”
  • “CYA.”
  • Questioning the messenger
  • “What I say goes.”

These symptoms result in an outbreak of Jeopardy Knowledge. “Get it right” disease helps people avoid risk and cover egos.  It keeps the team “still.”

Unfortunately, if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.

Remember, great culture comes with a healthy dose of questioning.

Being wrong isn’t a sin. It’s a step towards growth.

The “Right” Answer

Verify the answer; it might mean something else

You’ve done the work. You breathe a sigh of relief. It’s the right answer.

Except, it may not be.

“Right” can mean so many things:

  • Easy
  • Safe
  • Looks good etc.

Make sure when it’s the right answer, it is the right answer. Like a good math student, you should always check your work.

If you don’t have the time to do this, you probably are making too many decisions.

Being Wrong Hurts

Don’t run from the hurt

There is a stinging sensation that happens to me when I’m wrong

I get the stinging at the back of my head, and it makes my face twist.

I’ve recognized that as my ego doing a mad dash to my nervous system, trying to figure out a way to get out of “wrong.”

Maybe I could talk over, or bring up something from the past where they were wrong? Perhaps I can use my rank to quiet them down or get passive aggressive.

There are a million ways my ego can figure out to “win.”

Except there is no winning.

The right thing to do is to breathe. Take in that information and recognize that it isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about growth.

Breathe, and recognize my ego flaring up, get curious about why I am resisting and prepare to close the gaps in my knowledge.

Then, it’s back to work.

Delegating is About “We,” Not Me


How do you make them look good?

When we ask someone to do something, its easy to stare at the objective as the only thing that matters. This way of thinking is the “stick” mindset. When you are in the “stick” mindset, you use fear and it’s compatriots (guilt, shame, anger, etc.).

In a pinch, this can work. Eventually, however, you lose. Growth stagnates with harsh treatment. This is bad news if you delegate.

Corporate America has worked this way for years, and now they wonder why employee engagement is at an all-time low (don’t blame millennials, this is almost every age sector).

Limited growth = limited engagement.

What is the alternative?

When you delegate something, either:

  • Connect something meaningful to the other person at the end (what do they want?)
  • Put them in a position to look good to the people they find important

When people know you’ll do right by them, you avoid traps of arrested mental development.

Do this enough, and people can’t wait for you to ask them to do something.

Even better, their improved esteem shows up in all of their work.

What is better than that?

Right vs. “Rightish”

right vs rightish

It’s Ugly. It’s OK.


The problem with that exclamation is the demand for perfection. 

That works in a school environment.

However, in life and leadership, binary thinking (right and wrong) stops us from growth.

Instead of the “right” answer, go for the “rightish” answer. Sometimes the “rightish” solution is ugly. In fact, often it is. And the beauty of “rightish” is the ability to iterate and make it better. 

As a result, pushing through the ugly with iteration makes something far better than the “perfect” first answer.

Most of the things you used started off on the “rightish” direction and grew from there.

Be Specific

Specificity beats generality every time.

Every time I get specific, I get the answers to the most important questions about a project.  Much of the ambiguity falls away because I have to make important decisions immediately. The goals of the project become clear.  The to-do list starts to form. The vision starts to become a reality. Your focus gets sharper because you are adding restraint. Restraint gives us focus.

It isn’t easy.It requires patience. It requires fighting through the urge to do something. Most of all, it requires you being open to accepting that you may not want to do what you started doing. You may go down the rabbit hole. You may decide that it just isn’t worth the time,money, or blood sweat and tears it will take to make this a reality. It is a hard pill to swallow, because you begin to deal with sunk cost. The work has already begun through planning. You start to see what it is, but – it may not work. That may not work sucks but it’s a reality, but it sucks.

Asking enough questions, specific questions, makes life more uncomfortable. The reality that something might not work is uncomfortable. It hurts to give things away. At the core of it, we are selfish beings.”I am right all the time.” It is alright, no need to worry about that. We are human and dealing with that is harsh.

There is an upside to all of this though.  Those specific questions give us freedom. That freedom leads to us getting rid of wasted time. You can always find ways to make yourself feel better about “the suck” but you can never regain time. Being focused is critical to carry out the real work that drives us, and through specificity we can get to a better level of focus.