BD9: Always Being Right

Welcome to Breakdown 9. Today we tackle how to stop needing to be right.

BD is where I teach a coach's secret secret sauce: how to dissect a person's problem so you can give them the solution. Think of it a little bit like making an ice cream cake - I don't just show you the final cake but the recipe and mechanism that got me there. If you can learn this skill then you can start coaching yourself through your challenges and put me firmly out of business.

If you'd like to have a problem of yours BD'd please feel free to just hit reply and let me know (I've currently got 4 in the chamber so send one across if you have one.)

Before you get into this one - if you could take 15 seconds and forward this onto 1 person at work and two people in your life that my writing could bring value to that'd be amazing. I spend $0 promoting my writing and would love to see it reach more people.

It's always a delight to do one of these and help one of you.

BD posts can get quite (very) long as I'm a full blown nerd at this stuff.

Estimated full reading time: 11 minutes.


For those of you with bad eye site, get some damn glasses.

Hey MJ,

I have an issue where I have an incessant need to always be right and to make it seem like I know what I'm talking about.

I've lost two amazing friendships over this.

How do I fix this?



A few things run through my mind as a I read over this week's problem.

  1. We have to be careful when we give advice that we give it relative to the level of the problem. If you think about your smart phone, it has a few different layers to it. It has the operating system, apps, and then settings within the apps. Each of these correlate to different areas of change. Setting within an app is talking about iterating a certain habit or pattern, changing apps is about changing out the pattern that you use whilst keeping it similar to what you're doing (think changing Instagram for Snapchat or Paypal for Stripe) and the third level - the operating system is about figuring out why you have that pattern in the first place and uninstalling it to replace it with something that actually serves you. Most people ask me questions about level one or two which is why you'll so often hear me give two levels of advice to someone. I'll give them their app-based advice and then ask them a few rapid fire questions to get them thinking at the operating system level. I can tell you one thing from working with so many different people: 95% of you are thinking about change at a level that is too superficial. The reason a lot of people don't change or change in a way that doesn't really work is that they are trying to install an app made for iPhones when they have the operating system of an Android or (don't freak out) Windows phone. A lot of people are too terrified to admit that this is actually damaging the quality of your life and needs to be addressed with that level of intention. Getting into the operating system is where change gets really fucking challenging - you have to face the fact that you might not think you're enough, that you might not be a good person to some people, that you might be trying to act tough because you're so scared on the inside - there are so many different variables when you're that deep in the system that are all really challenging to process. I've had to get into my operating system a lot and have had some brutal realisations in there: I've thought something was wrong with me, I've realised I've been a dick to a lot of people, I've seen that I've got depression and that I'm an addict. But when you're at that level at least you're aware that you're actually addressing it and that you can actually change it now. BD can talk all day about trying to be nicer, trying to not be right so much, trying to let other people speak and these are all great but they are all just changing the app for a slightly different app. It will NOT work because it's approaching the change from the wrong level. The question is how do I know what level to operate at? Assume that it's the operating system and then if that seems to all be in order work your way up. That way you're eliminating the ability to be missing what's really happening because it's easier to look at it the other way. The other question is how do I get to the operating system? By asking better, deeper and more strategic questions and making sure we get an answer before we move forward. The last question is how do I know that this is an operating system problem? Firstly - I've had this exact pattern REAL bad in my life in the past so I know from personal experience and secondly - the fact that BD lost one friendship and didn't stop the pattern before losing the second one (or lost both at once and didn't see it coming) makes me understand that we need to get deep into this.

  2. It's a big deal that BD has managed to recognise this and the effect it's had on their life. I really mean that. It would be so easy to look at the situation that lost the friendships and just blame the other people or the environment rather than taking it on the chin and realising that something has to change. This tells me that BD has a level of self-awareness and leverage (i.e. reason to change - I could write a whole BD on this as it's one of the secrets to change. Someone, send me an email asking about it and I can go deep!) on themselves that whatever I tell them to do it's highly likely they will do it.​ This is music to a person like my ears - just doing the work always leads to the greatest results.

  3. The trick is to always try and figure out what the brain is getting or avoiding having to deal with by having this pattern. That's operating system level and that's what we will look for.

  4. I'm going to skip a few steps in the reasoning because it'd get needlessly complicated and you'll get it all in the solution anyway :)

Let's do this...


Hey BD and everyone who skipped the breakdown part. Go back and read it.

You've asked me bluntly how to fix this and I can give you the blunt answer: stop making everything about you and start making it about everyone else.

Live a life dedicated to lighting OTHER people up and you'll never lose a friendship like this ever again. You have two choices to make, let this go and move forward or keep driving people away because you'd rather be right than in love and in friendship. They are mutually exclusive and it's on you to decide.

The deeper question for you to be asking yourself is not 'how do I fix this?' but 'why am I REALLY doing this in the first place?'

Now, I have the pleasure of cheating in this BD because I know BD personally and I know that they have a heart of gold, a gift for learning and a light inside them that is going to change the world in their lifetime. So what the fuck is getting in the way of that?

Somewhere along your life path BD, you felt threatened either emotionally or physically. You may or may not remember the moment, but in that moment you brain reached out for a survival strategy. You thought you were going to get rejected, you thought you were not good enough, you thought you were going to be bullied, you thought that someone was going to laugh at you, something happened and your brain went into flight or fight and tried to do something to shift what was happening to you.

This is so important to understand. This is not a conscious process but an evolutionary system that will take over if you feel threatened - and just FYI: rejection is process in the same part of your mind that physical pain is. That's how scared of it we are.

The strategy your brain landed on was significance. You felt so not special and not unique your brain decided to do something about it.

It decided the best way to stop feeling that way was to compete with the people around you because if you were above them on the hierarchy then you would be able to feel safe. Does that make sense? The brain believe that control=safety.

Someone below you in the hierarchy has no power over you. The method your brain chose to compete over will always be something it thinks it can win. For you? Your IQ and being 'right.' (it can literally anything - the most drugs, the most money, the most girls/guys, the biggest heels, the best job... on and on and on)

That's why this has been so hard for you to let go and why you do it so incessantly - your brain does this to PROTECT YOU. It thinks if you're not right then something bad will happen, you will be unsafe and you are going to get rejected. It would rather just have you be right all the time instead of addressing its operating system which tells you that you're terrified that people are going to reject you.

This is why you're so self-focused, this is why it's all about you, this is why you need to be right all the time. Your brain has to make it about you to make sure that you're safe.

Because let me make a point that would have saved me a long time if someone emailed me about it 5 years ago - what's so amazing about being right? Is it really the greatest feeling in the world? Would you REALLY rather be right than be connected and loving with the people around you, would you rather be right than have someone in tears thanking you for how much you changed their life, would you really rather be right than do something for someone else that lights them up?

You wouldn't - and if you think you would that's just your old defense mechanism coming back in.

So what's the solution in all of this?

Trust yourself.

You're forcing your mind to look at the world in black or white - that way there is a right answer and you can feel safe because you have it. But the world is full of gray, and you're holding back your own growth by insisting there is only one answer. You're also using a strategy that's going to create the very thing you fear - you're worried about people rejecting or judging you and this model of the world is a sure as fuck way to make sure people do that.

The question is not 'how do I trust myself and stop being right?' - that's trying to get the right answer again.

The point of this all is just to COMMIT to doing it, no matter what it takes.

Once you do that - all of the tactics, all of the settings in the apps will become clear.

You'll notice that you don't have to speak so much, you can focus on other people more, and you can realise instead of arguing you could instead connect with the person in front of you and get them to educate you in why they think that way.

When I meet someone who I disagree with - my reaction now is not to argue them into oblivion, it's to say 'WOW! We disagree on so much, please educate me on why you think that way!!' and I say it with total sincerity. It gives me a place to learn, connect and love someone rather than being in argument where I think I have the fucking authority to tell anyone how to think without them giving me permission to do so.

It's time to level up and become an adult. If you're focusing on being right - you're not learning and you're not connecting. So come from the heart and not from the head, commit to letting this go and all will change in a matter of weeks.

Much love,


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