Making The Same Mistakes With Increasing Confidence

Several years ago, when I worked in healthcare, I was responsible for the Spine Service Line at a hospital in Idaho. My role had me working with many different disciplines; nursing staff, physicians, physical therapists, the operating room, etc. At that time, we were pursuing a lot of changes because we were experiencing so much growth. As a result, we were trying to implement new practices as we examined the latest in research as it applied to patient care, and we needed the buy-in of physicians to make the necessary changes a reality.

Most of the people I worked with understood the need to create new approaches to patient care and medicine. But a few had the mentality of, “We have always done it this way, why should we change?” These individuals refused to read the research, had no interest in what experts in their fields had to say, and buried their heads in the sand.

After a particularly frustrating meeting, one co-worker said, “The most dangerous thing a person can do is make the same mistakes with increasing confidence.” Those words got my attention. Refusing to change in the face of new information, hosts of data, and ample research is indeed a scary thing. And this isn’t a detriment to just healthcare. Every single business or organization is damaged by people who make the same mistakes with increasing confidence. And every relationship impacted by such a mentality suffers.

But the question we need to ask is why? Why do people do this? Is it fear? Is it insecurity? Is it pure stubbornness? Or, is it willful ignorance? I would argue it is all of the above. And I would also argue that no one is immune. We all have beliefs and ideas that we hold dear; things we don’t want to let go, preconceived notions that we live and die by. While my former co-worker was addressing issues in a hospital, his words bring me back to two specific topics — politics and religion.

There are no two areas where I see more fear, insecurity, stubbornness, and willful ignorance. As a result, we make the same mistakes, over and over, while thinking we are “true to our convictions” and “standing strong.” Don’t get me wrong, I am all for convictions and strong beliefs but conviction out of habit is simply stupidity and standing strong because of beliefs I have been spoon fed is borderline crazy.

With a volatile political landscape fueled by a plethora of “believers” spewing words of hate, bigotry, and misogyny, we need to start looking for ways to learn from our mistakes as opposed to repeating them.

I rarely get political or dig into issues of faith, but it is time for us to stop making the same mistakes with increasing confidence. We must make decisions based on accurate information, not habit. Which means we might have to go looking for it as opposed to believing what Fox News or CNN tells us. We must establish beliefs based on understanding as opposed to regurgitating those of others. Which means we might need to crack open a book and learn something for ourselves. We must establish a new norm, approaching people with love and grace and not be disappointed when they don’t respond in likeness.

Because hate and ignorance aren’t working, they never have. These are mistakes we have been making for far too many generations. It’s time for something new, and it starts with each of us, regardless of which side of the fence we are on with any given issue. It begins by acknowledging the mistakes we have made and learning from them.

Take a moment today and look at the mistakes you've made and own them. Dig into them and try to understand why you did what you did. But most importantly, admit you were wrong. Go to those affected by your mistakes and apologize.

This is the only place where the change we so desperately need can begin.