On Changing Your Mind

I love this from Jeff Bezos (via 37signals):

During one of his answers, he shared an enlightened observation about people who are “right a lot”.

He said people who were right a lot of the timewere people who often changed their minds. He doesn’t think consistency of thought is a particularly positive trait. It’s perfectly healthy — encouraged, even — to have an idea tomorrow that contradicted your idea today.

He’s observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding, reconsidering a problem they thought they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a well formed point of view, but it means you should consider your point of view as temporary.

What trait signified someone who was wrong a lot of the time? Someone obsessed with details that only support one point of view. If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time.

I’ve been thinking about this more and more over the past few weeks (and the post is old, btw) as I’ve thought about the exciting scaling challenges that we’ve had with The Iron Yard as I’ve had to strongly reconsider my position on some very fundamental beliefs of how I run, grow, and expand a company.

These considerations are fun to entertain and exciting to think about. What’s nice is that I feel like I’ve generally considered my point of view as “temporary” most of my life.

In fact, you can pretty much see that in real-time as some of the blog posts that I’ve written in the past now completely contradicted by posts that I write today. I do not feel bad about this change of heart (and mind) and I count it as a benefit and a strength that helps me stay flexible, nimble, open-minded to options and opportunity.

This isn’t saying that I’m the “smartest” person or that I do this really well, but I can look back at many of my decisions and say, fairly emphatically, that I believed them deeply at the time and now I see those same decisions (and the motivations and elements that informed those decisions) entirely different; and I’m fine with that.

And I know of many people that I’ve met who have held so tightly to one perspective that they have short-circuited or precluded themselves of future opportunity and options because their view was too small, too finite, too dogmatic.

I bet you know a few of these people too.