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April 02, 2012 Blog 1 min read

As a child, one of the first things we’re taught to do is tie our shoes. It’s so automatic that we don’t even think about it when we do it.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Terry Moore, director of Radius Foundation in New York, told me I’ve been doing it wrong , via a TEDtalk* titled “How to Tie Your Shoes.” Apparently Terry had purchased a pair of shoes with round, nylon laces that refused to stay tied. Upon taking them back to the store, the clerk responded, “Oh, you’re tying them wrong!”

Turns out there are two ways to tie one’s shoes—with a weak knot (the way the vast majority of us were taught) and with a strong knot. The strong knot is very similar to the weak knot, except you wrap the lace the other direction around the loops during the knotting process. This can all be seen clearly in this highly entertaining video (I particularly like how rigorously the audience applauds when Terry completes his demonstration of the weak knot).

Firm co-founder Frank Moran once said that, throughout history, the main reason that incorrect decisions have been made is due to ego. That’s always resonated with me, and that’s one reason I like this video. Here is a man confronted with news that he’s been approaching one of life’s simplest tasks incorrectly for decades, yet he has the aplomb to say, “Really? Okay. Show me how to do it differently.” It just goes to show that we never stop learning…as long as we’re open to new knowledge as it’s presented to us.

How about you? Do you tie your shoes correctly? Can you think of a time when you were surprised to learn a different approach to a task you thought you’d mastered?

*TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a global set of conferences owned by a nonprofit organization formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.”