The Wisdoms Project

Owning Up

I have never understood why so many people have such a hard time admitting that they were wrong about something or did something wrong or that they just didn’t know the answer to a question.  To me, admitting an error or a bad act or lack of knowledge is the fastest way to making it right….because there is usually someone around who will set me straight.

How often have we seen the stupidity of our political leaders who fail to recognize that their denial and attempted cover-up has just kept the spotlight on them longer?  We are a very forgiving (I think, overly-forgiving) people.  If they would just come clean, admit their mistake and accept the consequences, we’ll all be able to get on with dinner.

It’s been over sixty years, but I can’t forget that day in school when I walked down a long hallway and purposely held a pencil to the wall.  It was childish.  It was dumb.  What was really stupid was me denying it all afternoon although the principal saw me do it and caught me pencil-handed.  “I know that the pencil line stops where I am, but you can’t prove that I did it.”

More people would learn from their mistakes
if they weren't so busy denying they made them.

                        Better to ask twice than to lose your way once.

An admission of error is a sign of strength,
rather than a confession of weakness.

Eating words has never given me indigestion.
    Winston Churchill

             The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance
                                                                 ….it is the illusion of knowledge.
    Daniel J. Boorstin

One should never be ashamed to own that one is in the wrong
….which is saying, in other words,
that one is wiser today than one was yesterday.
    Alexander Pope

The least important word: I.
The most important word: We.
The two most important words: Thank you.
The three most important words: If you please.
The four most important words: What is your opinion?
The five most important words: I am proud of you.
The six most important words: I admit I made a mistake.

When you know something, to hold that you know it,
and when you do not know it,
to admit that you do not….this is true knowledge.

One of the most honorable but least used answers:  “I don’t know.”

Teach thy tongue to be able to say, “I do not know.”

It wasn't until quite late in life, unfortunately, that I discovered how easy it is to say, “I don't know.”
Somerset Maugham

An open mind leaves a chance
for someone to drop a worthwhile thought into it.

In any controversy, the instant we feel anger we have ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.

                  The worst-tempered people I’ve ever met
                                             were the people who knew they were wrong.
Wilson Mizner

Many might have attained wisdom had they not thought
that they had already attained it.

Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on developing the proof.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Man is unique among animals
in our practiced ability to know things that are not so.
    Philip Slater

We know so many things that aren't so.

Learn to unlearn.
Benjamin Disraeli

That “expert” said what?!

The president of Western Union, when offered the chance to buy Alexander Graham Bell’s struggling new telephone company:
“What use could my company have of this electrical toy?”

Charles Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office in 1899:
“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

A bank president, when invited to invest in Henry Ford’s new company:
“The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty.”

Lord Kelvin, physicist and president of the Royal Science Society in 1900:
“Radio has no future.”
A few years later, Kelvin also said:
“X-rays are a hoax.”

L. Erskine Hill, physiology lecturer to medical students in 1912:
“The chemical purity of the air is of no importance.”

Thomas Edison in 1922:
“The radio craze will die out in time.”

Harry Warner of Warner Bros. movie studios:
“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”

Former British Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1935:
“Believe me, Germany is unable to wage war.”

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM in 1943:
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Darryl F. Zanuck, founder of 20th Century-Fox film studios in 1946:
“Television will not be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months.  People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”

Richard Wooley, official British Royal Astronomer in 1956:
“The idea of space travel is utter bilge.”

Surgeon Dr. Ian MacDonald in 1963:
“For the majority of people, the use of tobacco has a beneficial effect.”

Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation in 1977:
“There is no reason for anyone to have a computer in their home.”

Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft in 1981:
“640K of memory ought to be enough for anybody.”

Biologist James McGrath writing in Science magazine in 1984:
“The cloning of mammals is biologically impossible.”

Wilbur Wright, two years before flying the first successful airplane:
“Man will not fly for fifty years.”

The Boston Medical Journal in 1898 when heroin was being promoted as an effective cough syrup:
“It is not hypnotic and there is no danger of acquiring the habit.”

Scientific American magazine in 1909:
“The automobile has practically reached the limit of its development.”

Military strategist and French Marshal Ferdinand Foch in 1910:
“Airplanes are interesting toys, but of no military value.”

Twice-elected U.S. President Grover Cleveland in 1906:
“The relative positions to be assumed by man and woman in our civilization were assigned long ago by a higher intelligence than ours.  Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.”

Charles E. Mitchell, chairman of National City Bank, one week before the 1929 stock market collapse:
“The industrial condition of the United States is perfectly sound.”

President Herbert Hoover in April 1930:
“The depression is over.  Harvard economists assure me that the underlying conditions are sound and that improvement will set in during these spring months.”

German President Paul von Hindenburg following the 1930 national elections in which the Nazi Party won 107 seats in the parliament:
“Adolf Hitler will never become Chancellor.  The best he can hope for is to head the postal department.”

Albert Einstein in 1932:
“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.  It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.”

Hollywood casting director upon seeing Fred Astaire’s 1928 screen test:
“Can’t act.  Can’t sing.  Balding.  Can dance a little.”

Wilbur Wright in 1909:
“We began working on a helicopter,
but soon saw that it had no future and dropped it.”

German Nazi cabinet minister Richard Darre in 1940:
“The United States is at present so demoralized and so corrupted that it need not be taken into consideration as a military adversary.”

French General Maxime Weygand in June 1940:
“In three weeks, the German Luftwaffe will wring England’s neck like a chicken.”

General Douglas MacArthur in 1940:
“Japan will never join Hitler’s Axis.”

U.S. chief of naval intelligence in 1940:
“The Hawaiian Islands are over-protected.  The entire Japanese fleet and air force could not seriously threaten Oahu.”

Popular Mechanics magazine in 1950:
“Computers in the future may have only one thousand vacuum tubes and perhaps only weigh one-and-a-half tons.”

University of Maryland professor John S. Toll in 1961:
“By 1980, atomic energy will give us all free, unmetered energy as well as atomic-powered aircraft and automobiles.”

British Prime Minister (1979-1990) Margaret Thatcher in 1974:
“No woman in my time will be Prime Minister.”

To err is human.  To admit it is superhuman.

                       An error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.

Every great mistake has a halfway moment
….a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.
    Pearl S. Buck

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose.    
Mary Pickford

The only graceful way to accept an insult is to ignore it.
If you can’t ignore it….top it.
If you can’t top it….laugh at it.
If you can’t laugh at it….you probably deserved it.
Russell Lynes

          If it's going to come out eventually
                                               .... better to have it come out immediately.
    Henry Kissinger

The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.
    Thomas Carlyle

A fault recognized is half corrected!

                        The best way to break a bad habit is to drop it.

An apology is a good way to have the last word.

Walk your talk.

To have doubted one’s own first principles
is the mark of a civilized person.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts everything you said today.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

If in the last few years you have not discarded a major opinion
or acquired a new one, check your pulse
….you may be dead.

A great many people think they are thinking
when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
William James

The problems we face will not be solved
by the minds that created them.
Albert Einstein

No great improvements in the lot of Mankind are possible until a great change takes place in their mode of thought.
John Stuart Mill

        Half of the harm done in this world is due to people who want to feel important.
                                                                   T. S. Eliot

If you always begin in certainties, you will end in doubts.
But if you will be content to begin in doubts, you shall end in certainties.
Francis Bacon

The latter part of a wise person's life is taken up in curing the follies, prejudices and false opinions they contracted in the former.
Jonathan Swift

Never forget that you are part of the people
who can be fooled some of the time.

It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.
                                                                       Noel Coward

Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The truth shall set you free….but first it may make you miserable.

Good judgment comes from experience.
And experience….well, that often comes from poor judgment.
A.S. Milne

You grow up on the day that you have
your first real laugh at yourself.
Ethel Barrymore

People never lie so much as
                            ….after a hunt
                                       …..during a war
                                                   ….or before an election.
Otto von Bismarck

When you take your life into your own hands, a terrible thing happens:           
 Suddenly, you have no one else to blame.
Erica Jong