8 Dumb Proclamations I’ve Made

Being-Wrong-blog-blueIn 1973, just weeks into 10th grade, I came home and made this wise and prophetic (NOT!) statement to my mother:

“Mom, I’m quitting typing class. I’ll never need it.

Forty years later, as I create this blog using only my middle fingers—can you say “clumsy, awkward, and slow”?—I will now share 7 additional amazingly dumb proclamations I’ve made:

1980: I will never leave Cargill. I’ll retire here and get a gold watch! I split in February 1986.

1986: Who, me—sell? No way. I’m no salesperson. If I had never started selling training to execs, there would be no QBQ! book.

1987: I will not buy a snowblower! Two Minnesota winters took care of that.

1996: A website is not something I’ll need as a speaker. See this.

1998: No way I’ll spend money on an underground sprinkler system for a lawn! Um, try to keep sod alive in the Colorado desert without one.

2003: Blogging? No need, it’s just a fad. Please note what you’re reading.

2011: We will never own a “second home.” Too much money, too much work! Well, it sits in the Rocky Mountains and we enjoy weekends there. #Blessed


I often speak of things of which I know nothing.

We even touched on that truth in the new Parenting the QBQ Way book where my wife, Karen, penned something like, “John has never had an opinion he didn’t share out loud.”


And yet, without those opinions, I could never have written QBQ! and Flipping the Switch—and come up with 47 ways for organizations to be exceptional in Outstanding!

Said differently, I’m okay with who, what, and where I am—even though I’ve made a plethora of mistakes. 

I also know I’m not the only one who believes in living life the way I have …

Many years ago, I met with a VP of a mortgage firm and when I asked him to describe his approach to people management, he said this:

“John, I want my people to be often wrong, but never in doubt.”

I’ve never forgotten those words.

Was he really saying he wants his staff/team to make mistakes, act on incorrect judgments, and commit errors in their work?

Well, yes … because without all that, there will be no success. Remember:

Inherent in the growth process is failure.

I recently completed the first of two “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” speaking engagements for the outstanding organizationBoston Market. They have 7 guiding values and one of them is this:

Think Big and Be Bold

I love that. It speaks to risk-taking, action, and getting stuff done!

And, being wrong. Because nobody is always right.

So, my counsel is this:

Go forth and be wrong today, because sometimes being wrong is the right thing to do.


What WRONG proclamations have you made?

Do you need to be WRONG more often? What holds you back?

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20 Responses

  1. My sister bought her first car in 1975; asked me whether she should have a cassette or an 8-track player installed. I told her to go with an 8-track because cassettes were a passing fad. I was also the genius who predicted that CDs would never replace LPs. But at least I’ve learned from my mistakes: I offer no opinion about MP3s or whatever the options of today/tomorrow might be!

  2. Back in high school: My mom insisted I take typing. I never did using the logic “Mom, engineers don’t have to know how to type!” (As I type this 1 character-at-a-time.)
    Back in college: “I’ll never have to learn this Fourier analysis stuff, there’ll never be computers fast enough to do anything with it.” (Even kids toys have enough horsepower to process Fourier transforms now.)

    Good thing I have acquired a fine taste for crow.

  3. When I was laid of from a job I loved, I asked ask the Hospitality Director at my church to pray with me one weekend. I thought my prayers had been answered by securing another role with company. It was less desirable, but a paycheck I was grateful for! When I told her the good news, she asked if I would be interested in an administrative position at the church- to which I boldly replied “I could never work at a church!” Well, I recently celebrated my 5-year anniversary in ministry during which time I became a lay pastor caring for our congregation, began serving with recently and soon to be released inmates, and I began pursuing a Social Services degree this fall. That “never” is changing my entire life!

  4. When I left the distribution side of our business and went to the retail side, I loved it and thought “I’ll never go back to distribution because I love retail.” Eight years later, I accepted a major promotion back to distribution.

    I tend to be a know-it-all, and one of the benefits of being wrong is that I get to apologize and/or admit that I made an error. This helps my staff see that I’m human and can work through mistakes. I once read that admitting when you’re wrong is simply telling other people that you finally realize what they already know.

  5. I made the comment when I was a teenager, that I can’t sell. Fast forward many years later…working in Human Resources, everyday I am responsible for selling. I sell the brand, the open positions and projects within the company. I made this comment before reading Daniel Pink’s “To Sell Is Human”…we are all in sales, some just don’t want to admit it.

  6. “This 286 with 512 of RAM and 40 meg hard-drive is more computer than you will ever need.” I proclaimed this to my “just entering the computer world” parents and was wrong within a few short months. Amazing how the capacity of our culture continues to expand beyond the restrictions of our logic.

  7. John,

    I received your latest email and after taking a few minutes to read through the email it really touched me and made my day. Thank You. How many proclamations have we made and later changed our minds. I never took a typing class, and wish I had.

    Hope all is well with the family

    Kurt E. Barnes

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