The Subtle Difference Between Right and Wrong

By John Dilworth · July 4, 2008

The Subtle Difference Between Doing it Right and Doing it Wrong

About a month ago, I read a blog post which described the “proper” way to tie your shoes. If your shoelaces come untied frequently, and if they don’t lie straight horizontally on your shoes, there’s a good chance that you are tying your shoes wrong also. While you are probably doing it wrong too, this post isn’t about how to tie your shoelaces (others have described that much better than I can). This post is about the subtle difference between doing it right and doing it wrong.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve re-tied my loose shoelaces multiple times throughout the day, only to have them loosen again. I learned double knots, and even went to extremes favoring slip-ons, or alternative fasteners to avoid the inevitable loosening of my wrongly tied knot. The thing is, I didn’t realize that I was doing anything wrong—I just assumed that it was normal for laces to come undone. It was rarely critical or life threatening, and the solution to loosening was relatively simple – I’d just tie them again. It didn’t take much time, just a few seconds and I was good to go for a few more hours. I had nothing to compare my situation to, and it was never that important – so for 30+ years I just keep doing it the same way as the first time that I learned.

Today, however, I can identify an incorrectly tied shoe, and I now know the proper method to tie my own shoes. It was a simple change, and involved only one simple corrective maneuver.

I can’t help but feel now that there are lots of simple things, and probably even more complicated things that I am probably doing the wrong way. If this is the case, and I can improve many areas of my life by making simple adjustments, I ought to be looking out for those subtle differences. After all, if I’ve been messing up something as simple as tying my shoes for over 30 years, there’s definitely other things, maybe even life critical things, that I need to learn to do differently.