How being certain you are right can cause a big problem

Learning or re-learning a life lesson can hurt.

Another bonus from putting yourself in new situations is life lessons – or in my case relearning one that I had forgotten. My hike to Bassi Falls involved travel of about 50 miles to the trail head which took me far from my usual haunts. It took a while to actually locate the trail down a one lane road with ad hoc parking on the shoulder. Bassi Falls is a popular destination so there were lots of cars parked at the trail head and many people enjoying the falls.

What do you do when your car won’t start?

My lesson began when I returned to my car and turned the key. Nothing happened. No clicks. No whirrs. No comfortable engine sounds. I was stuck. Common sense might suggest opening the hood and checking the engine. I was beyond common sense, however, because I knew the cause of my problem.

This wasn’t my first time.

One week earlier, I had the same experience. I was picking up a friend and when we returned to the car, it refused to start. We discovered that the battery was dead. I replaced the battery and everything was fine. I decided that the battery was the problem and didn’t have the car checked for other problems. So at Bassi Falls, I assessed the situation and decided that my car had some electrical problem which was draining batteries. There was no need to check under the hood and no reason to think that I could jump start the car. I needed a tow. There was no doubt in my mind. Brilliant!

Denial is not just a river in Egypt

To my amazement, my cellphone worked and I called for a tow and waited. I had something to read. I was surrounded by beauty. There was no place I had to be. Friendly people asked if I needed help, or a jump. I thanked them and told them it wouldn’t work because I knew what was wrong.

The cold wet mackerel

Finally the tow truck arrived and while the driver was hooking me up, he turned the key. It didn’t start but this time lights flashed. He suggested that I try a jump start. I was no longer so confident. I agreed and popped the hood. I looked at the battery and saw that one of the connectors was loose. I pushed it down and tried the ignition again. My car started like a champ.

Nothing damaged but my ego

In the end it was a cheap lesson. The tow truck was covered by insurance. I didn’t have to pay the towing charges to get my car out of the wilderness. I spend a relaxing afternoon in the woods. Looking back, there were so many opportunities to challenge my belief that I knew what was wrong. I could have looked under the hood when the car wouldn’t start. I could have accepted the offer of a jump start which would have made me look under the hood. In every instance, I refused to challenge my belief that I knew the cause of my problem. I was arrogant and even worse, I was completely wrong.

Be picky when you hang with cocky bastards

It is hard not to have an admiration for the cocky bastard who is always right, annoying as they may be but what do you think about a cocky bastard who is wrong? You want to stay as far away from him and his destructive ego as you can. When the sorry individual is you, the best you can do is take that ego down a peg or two and be open to the possibilities, even when they seem unlikely or impossible Going forward I need to remember this experience and tell myself to be open to the alternatives and not to jump quickly to a conclusion no matter how reasonable the explanation may seem. So that is my life lesson, but what about you/ Have you had a similar experience that helped you be open to possibilities? If yes, then share it in a comment.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Dave Doolin June 22, 2010, 9:55 am

    I tend to hedge. Often, this appears as a lack of self-confidence.

    Really, it’s more that I don’t understand how to say that the truth is complicated. People want easy answers. When you can’t deliver them, they start to wonder.

    Never mastered the art of telling people what they want to hear.
    Dave Doolin’s last Blog Post ..Want to Write Better? Here’s how…

    • Ralph June 22, 2010, 10:04 am

      I think that people want to see confidence. Often they never stick around for the consequences. You have to act but if you hesitate and equivocate, people question. Sometimes action, right or wrong, is more important than being right. In my case, checking some alternative possibilities would have been wise.

      • Dave Doolin June 27, 2010, 5:16 pm

        A lot of what I have done in the past (construction), if you do the wrong thing, people get hurt or die.

        I’ve never come to grips with the social respect people lavish on confidently wrong people. Someone who is provably wrong, or incongruent, or plays games with the truth, with me, one strike and they’re out. I have learned to smile and nod, though. Very little good ever comes from calling it out.
        Dave Doolin’s last Blog Post ..I want to be an Olympic blogger Part I

        • Ralph June 28, 2010, 8:15 am

          Why to you think this is? Do people enjoy being made fools of?

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