Thursday, May 5, 2011

On Being Wrong

How does it feel, emotionally to be wrong wrong? ...You're answering a different question. You're answering "How does it feel to realize you're wrong?". ...It does feel like something to be wrong: it feels like being right.
Kathryn Schulz, "On Being Wrong" at TED, available on hulu.

I am always at great risk of being wrong. I work, most of the time, in technical support, and ninety percent of that is helping out people who don't know jack about the things I'm troubleshooting. I haven't been taught everything, but I'm good at my job because I'm good at absorbing information and good at making connections.

There's no way my supervisors could train me to troubleshoot everything that the customers ask me questions about, but what they do do is give me enough information and resources to figure it out on my own. That is what makes me so valuable.

I'm also careful. I say "should" when most people say "will." I say "ought" when most people say "does." I've been in the business of making money off of incomplete information for too long to be completely certain of much of anything. Mostly certain is all you can ask me of, and that's all I'll give, unless someone else is willing to take the fall. I'll ask my supervisor, and if they say "yes, it will" then I'll defer to them, and they can deal with the repercussions if it's wrong.

That may seem unfair to some of you who are either new to the job market or never or rarely have to deal with being questioned, but you get used to it, or you don't survive.