A religious man told Kailash Singh that if only he didn’t bathe, he would surely have a son. For 38 years Kailash has resolutely stuck to this advice.
In that time he has successfully fathered 7 daughters.
And how many sons?
None, no sons. No male progeny, offspring, or sprogs. Yet still Kailash does not bathe, convinced that at the age of 66, he and his wife of 60 might still give birth to a son.
Kailash never learned something very important; when to admit you are wrong.
One of the most useful things you’ll learn in your mission to become good at everything is how to accept you were wrong.
Kailash could have spared himself (and his no-doubt long suffering family) from decades of filth by simply accepting that he, and the religious guru he consulted, got things wrong.
He could have spared himself even further torment if he had been equipped with a mental framework able to throw up big shiny bright red flags at the absurd notion that not washing guarantees sons.
Learning to accept correction is one of the most empowering qualities you can ever give to yourself.
You begin to understand this simple truth: if you prove someone else wrong, you win in a limited way. You may have been right, but you did not grow a great deal. However if you are proved wrong then something incredible has happened; you have learned. You have won in the biggest possible way because you have bettered yourself.
Once this attitude is ingrained the childish tendency to cling to beliefs even after they have been demolished is greatly quailed.
This step is one of the most significant you will ever undertake in your journey to truly know yourself and excel at anything.
It will also make your life a lot easier. The temporary pain of admitting you are wrong is quickly subsumed by the pleasure of being right in the end. It is also vastly more pleasurable to get along with one’s fellow person if at all possible.
This is why Richard Dawkins has said that if he is proved incorrect about something, he will accept the correction gratefully. Grateful, because he is now smarter than he was before. Grateful because a correction now can spare deeper embarrassment later. Grateful because the truth is awesome and something we should all be seeking.
(Side note: I once said this to someone and they said: “you mean you would accept it graciously”. There’s really no way out of that kind of irony, so I just let it drop).
Learning to accept when you are wrong can also help develop in you another logical superpower: the ability to say “I don’t know”. The two combined will grant you more wisdom than you ever thought possible. Certainly far more than if you try and be right all the time.
The corollary to accepting you are wrong, is learning when to accept that you cannot persuade someone. In fact, as a rule it is good to assume that you cannot change the mind of anyone else. It will be true more often than not.