Fallibility; the ability to make mistakes and to be wrong. We absolutely hate being proven wrong, but one of the greatest certainties in life is that there is precious little that we can know and prove to be entirely factual. Let’s seek to better understand what it means to be fallible…
We are all imperfect by nature. Our eyes can deceive us, our ears can mislead us. Indeed, our senses prove fallible on nearly a daily basis. The same can be said about our beliefs and opinions; our own minds hold things to be certain that later prove to be uncertain, facts that we hold as true can be proven to be false. In the past, we would discuss what it is that we can really know for certain, but that’s not the point… We first need to accept that we are not meant to understand everything.
Working in education, I see this process almost daily: A student comes to class, in their mind they hold certain beliefs and facts to be true. When they are presented with new information that confronts this, they often struggle to accept that they could have been wrong originally. Why is it so difficult for us to let go of an erroneous belief in exchange for a newer, updated mode of truth? Unfortunately, it comes back to pride. We allow pride to shape our parameters of fact and truth, when we should be releasing any ideas of what we think we know when we enter into learning!
I see it in the gym too: a student (often the student who should not actually be showing anyone anything) demonstrates to a friend or training partner a technique that A) they believe is completely technically correct or B) they believe to be effective in all situations. What follows is a slow realization by both parties that either A or B is not indeed as infallible as it first seemed to the student. When confronted with questions, problems or even simple reflection, the student discovers that they have been incorrect! At this point, a person with a balanced ego will admit their fallibility and seek out help from another, more seasoned partner to improve upon what they have discovered to be incorrect. The student with too much ego, however, will maintain their stance on the technique; forcing their incorrect beliefs upon others, potentially damaging and stunting the learning of others.
“I get this to work on everyone.”
“Trust me, no-one else does this right.”
We, as learners & teachers, artists & sportspeople, need to understand that we are fallible. We are not perfect and we can be wrong. This is a major step in becoming more well rounded human beings, becoming better informed and understanding learning.