Confident Enough to Be Wrong

January 28, 2020 10:20 am Published by


Three months after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the neighbouring Gulf Coast in 2005, I found myself driving along Mississippi State Road 90, which hugs the Gulf Coast from Pass Christian, Mississippi to Gulfport, and beyond. Having been familiar with the before, the after was a particularly devastating site that frankly, the nightly newscast could not adequately portray. Stately antebellum mansions were reduced to nothing more than a single set of brick steps leading to where the porch and the rest of the house, used to be. A couple of blocks from the beach I saw a car nestled 20 feet above the ground in the crux of a tree. Ten miles further inland, treetops were littered with all manners of debris, including clothes, couches, fridges, and stoves.

The physical environment could be roughly categorized as follows: what man had built, was strewn about like messy kids toys, while what nature had built, remained largely unaffected. The centuries-old live oaks that had graced the beachfront mansions along what is known locally as, ‘millionaires mile’, remained un-fussed by the devastation. The trees before and after were identical. My Katrina experience came to mind after I did an internet search on a country singer that will be coming to Guelph, Tanya Tucker. Being unfamiliar with her work, the first song I looked up started with these lyrics:


There’s a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
And the reason it’s still standing
It was strong enough to bend.


That is true, I thought, but am I? Nature is ripe with metaphors, but this one strikes me as particularly applicable to many facets of our lives from our relationships to our businesses (which ought to be one and the same). Will I be strong enough to bend when circumstances demand it? Or will I hold on steadfastly to what worked before? When it gets windy, will I remain confident that what I believe is right? Or will I be confident enough to be wrong and adapt?

Thanks for reading,
Jeff Neumann

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