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You’re Wrong Until You Prove That You’re Right | NoBSCoachingAdvice com

A wonderful episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” offers a wonderful lesson for all of us.


I’m Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter. I’m a career and leadership coach. The head coach for JobSearchCoachingHQ, calm and

I was listening to a podcast interview from Malcolm Gladwell, “Revisionist History,” the last episode of Season Four. It’s called “The Obscure Virus Club.” It’s the story of the scientists who identified retroviruses (Don’t worry, this is not going to be a scientific show), discovered retroviruses, and eventually took that discovery into understanding how HIV worked.

The original scientists who found the translator enzyme, who persisted for years. They were wrong. At least that’s what everyone told them. They were wrong until they proved themselves right. Scientific journals rejected them. They would go to conferences, and no one was sitting next to them. . . But they were right.

They worked hard to get there. It took them years until they were proven right. Until they proved themselves right. They won the Nobel Prize. They fly to Sweden, it is a wonderful moment. As they’re presenting their theory of retroviruses, and speaking to everyone present, the kings, the princes, the princesses, and they’re talking about how cancer’s caused with his retrovirus. One of the scientists points out that everyone’s smoking <laugh> and everyone in the room is smoking,  they’ve just identified the cause of cancer, and they’re being honored for it with the Nobel Prize. It’s very funny moment.

Using their work, another group of scientists hypothesizes and is able to prove, despite opposition, that HIV is in a retrovirus. They read off the letter that’s up on his wall rejecting his article talking about this from a scientific journal of virology.

Folks, there are times you’re going to be wrong, at least to the popular culture . . . and you’re actually right. The question is, “Are you going to have the courage to persist?” Are you going to have the will to  persist? Are you going to put in the effort to persist? You may not ultimately be right. But you believe you are and it’s important to go down that road until you either are accepted as right, or until you realize that maybe you aren’t, but giving up shouldn’t be your answer. Persistence should be.




Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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