The song ended on a sour note. It wasn’t the note that was actually wrong; it was the fact that everyone held the note for a different length of time. We didn’t follow the conductor. This resulted in the droning sound of a hissing snake as everyone stopped on different beats.
Exasperated, our leader said, “You have to look at me. End when I end. If I’m wrong be wrong with me!” While his last sentence caused me to pause, it made sense.
Even if he ended a beat early or late, if we all ended at the same time no one would notice. If we didn’t follow his cues we wouldn’t make beautiful music, but instead be a cacophony of voices. We had to stay together, even if it meant being wrong together.
This standard can create harmony in life, as well as in music, improving relationships and building trust.
- In Marriage—The Duet: A man was telling friends about the great movie he saw Wednesday night, when his wife interrupted, “No, it was Thursday.” Did it make a difference?
No, says family expert Kevin Leman. He calls the wife’s interruption combative. Allowing your spouse’s error to go unchecked strengthens the partnership of your marriage, and gives you an opportunity to be wrong together.
- In Family—The Ensemble: My daughter came home with a low B on her algebra test. She studied hard with her dad, and I could see the disappointment on her face over the grade. This was not a time to bring up the fact that she could have studied more, or to fill her with platitudes that she would do better next time.
Instead, I looked over the test and said truthfully, “Wow, this was really hard. I’m not sure I would have gotten a B.” In choosing to empathize with her, and “be wrong with her,” I created camaraderie and collaboration. Then we could brainstorm together some ways to improve her math skills.
- In Business—The Symphony: In his post “How Real Leaders Demonstrate Accountability,” Michael Hyatt shared the story of Thomas Nelson division leader Allen Arnold, who took full responsibility for the budget failings his team experienced one month.
Arnold wasn’t just wrong with his team, but for his team. He used pronouns like “I” and “Me” instead of hiding behind his team (e.g., “we didn’t do such and such”) or blaming others (e.g., “they didn’t do such and such.”). In doing so he built trust and confidence among his employees, and gained the respect of the Executive Team.
This is not a lesson in integrity but in team-building. When someone does the wrong thing morally, we are called to rebuke, correct, and instruct. But in accidental and incidental occurrences, there can be value in being wrong together. When we come together in unison whether in choir, in business or in life, we will find harmony and live a life in concert.