Does that sound arrogant? I can’t help it. Who wouldn’t rather be right than wrong? I work really hard to be right, to know what I’m talking about and to know what I’m doing. To deserve a reputation as someone who is reliable and well … right.

If it helps, it would actually be more accurate instead of saying “I love being right”, to say instead —

I really, really hate being wrong!

I hate it so much that if I’m wrong, I want someone to correct me and make me right. Really. There’s no shame in being wrong as long as I’m wrong for less than two minutes while someone can persuade me of the fallacy of my position. Then I can ultimately be … right again. Or more to the point — not wrong.

Some years ago I was brought into a company to replace a consultant who was moving to Canada. Among his peers, his nickname was “The Brain”. We had maybe two weeks together for a knowledge transfer between us so that he could fill me in on all that he did. One always wishes for more time (I also want a pony … but that ain’t happening either).

The biggest problem we had was an annual survey, seen “at the highest levels” and by the whole world-wide enterprise, that we didn’t get to really go over in detail because those two weeks were not in that timeframe.

Well, as the time for the survey drew near, I prepped and had what I thought was a reasonable understanding of the tasks involved. Much of it was automated but as I discovered later, this application was a legacy app* that had evolved over the years. Fields** had been added, and fields had been deleted which affected the logic of the programming flow, so that every day during the three months that this survey ran, I would have to massage and scrub*** the data that was returned in the interest of clarity.

*     Written in old code and not up to date
**   Fields store data, e.g., a first name would be stored in a field
*** Data that is stored incorrectly due to the evolution of the database structure, must be manually reorganized to fit into the new structure or reports.

Unfortunately, everyone higher than me on the food chain who was involved in this process had the impression for some reason that the process was completely automated. If they happened to see the rough data before I could scrub it, they assumed that somehow I had screwed it up. Arrggghhh.

This went on for awhile and nothing I said convinced anyone that they were looking at raw data because they just knew that the process was automatic and didn’t need my intervention.

Obviously, to them, I was corrupting the data and whatever I was doing was not right. Also known as … wrong.

Finally, after much frustration and anger all around, at my request, my Director set up a conference call with the team and “The Brain” at his new job in Canada. Seated around the round table in the Director’s office was my PM, my Director, a couple of VPs, other connected parties and me. After all the pleasantries and questions that were leading us down a rabbit hole, I waited for a gap in the collective breathing pattern and was finally able to get in a word to “The Brain”.

“BillieBob, Bruce here.” (Name changed to protect the innocent.) “Just curious, but was this entire process completely automated or did you ever have to massage the data?”

“No, it never worked perfectly. I fixed as much code as I could, but it was so old I had to clean the data every morning.”

“Hmm. Fascinating. Well, that was the only question I had. Thanks much and stay warm up north there.”


More pleasantries and the call ended.

Other than the sounds of throats clearing, the room was silent. Someone finally said, “Well, that was good of BillieBob to give us that time. Let’s just continue what we’re doing then.”

I love being right. Does that sound arrogant?

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.