I Had Rather Be Right Than . . .

August 15, 2017 - 4 minutes read

“I had rather be right than president,” the well-known United States Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky declared in the U. S. Senate on February 7, 1839.

I don’t know if the voters of that time agreed that Senator Clay was right.  I do know that he was never president.

Being right, of course, is subjective.  I enjoyed the recent movie Wonder Woman, which scored highly on the review web site Rotten Tomatoes.  Is it a wonderful movie?  Many people would say “Yes”, and some would say, “No.”  Who is “right?”  Who is to make that determination?

When I look at reviews on Amazon for my three People Tools books there are favorable reviews, including many five star ratings.  But there are also a few ones and twos.  Who is “right”?

My point is that being “right” is subjective.  Being president is objective.

When you disagree with your spouse, parent, children, friend, or boss, which of you is “right?”  I don’t know how to determine that.  If I agree with you then I might be careless and say, “You are right,” when I really should say, “I agree with you.”

In a relationship this is an extremely important distinction. It can make the difference between being married or not, having a job or not, maintaining a good relationship or not. Because if you insist all of the time that you are “right,” what you really are is obnoxious.

I think you’ll agree with me that no human being who ever lived was “right” all of the time.  No one is infallible, including you.

A business associate and I recently returned from a short business trip.  He thought my car was parked on the top level of the LAX parking structure.  I was certain I had parked my car one level below so it would be out of the sun.  We disagreed.  We both searched the lower level several times.  No car.  Had it been stolen?  While I sat on my suitcase, reflecting, my friend climbed the stairs to the top level.

“I found the car,” he texted.

He had, indeed, found my car.  But I must admit that as I sit in my office today typing this, I still believe I parked my car on the lower level.  It must have been moved by some mysterious force that wanted to expose my car to the sun, or just to make me “wrong.”

I know.  You think I’m irrational about this.  And I am.  But I hope you will also recognize that sometimes – not often, but sometimes – you are irrational too.  And there’s the rub.

Would you rather be “right” than married?  Would you rather be “right” than have a job?  Would you rather be “right” than keep a friend?

To maintain a good relationship it helps to say “You’re right” often and “Sorry, I was wrong,” even more often.  Your relationships will thrive.

If my memory is correct, many years ago the best-selling novel Love Story began with the line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

I disagree.  Love means that you have to say you’re sorry often.

Sorry, Henry.  I too disagree with you.  I don’t need to always be right.

Am I right?


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