When I first start coaching people, I often hear them say, “My hypothesis was wrong”, when the result of an experiment they are running is not what they predicted. This is usually accompanied by a heavy sigh and look of disappointment. And that’s not surprising! In general, as human beings, we place a high value on being right. Being wrong makes us feel bad because of the value judgment we’ve placed on right and wrong. Right good…wrong bad. The thing about a hypothesis though, is that it is just that: a hypothesis…we don’t know what is going to happen when we try it out…we’re simply making a guess about what might happen! When we run the experiment, we find out if what we thought was going to happen did happen, or if something else happened instead. There’s no value judgment attached to it. It just is. As coaches, we can help our learners be more comfortable with experimenting by teaching them not to use language that implies a value judgment when making and talking about their hypothesis. Instead of saying “My hypothesis was wrong”, have them say, “What I thought was going to happen, didn’t. This happened instead!” That way they won’t feel bad because they think they are wrong – they’ll feel good about learning!


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