Ah, the humanity!
Adam Grant and fruitful debates with a city’s top doctor (also a dear friend) have inspired this writing.
‘Who you are should be a question of what you value, not what you believe. Values are your core principles in life — they might be excellence and generosity, freedom and fairness, or security and integrity. Basing your identity on these kinds of principles enables you to remain open-minded about the best ways to advance them’ writes Adam Grant.
Consider this instance: a loved one or a colleague launching a prejudicial onslaught on you. A workplace issue has few remedies. Let’s talk about the unstructured dynamic here: personal relationships. What do you do now?
You plead and fight their misinformed judgments. But to no avail, after all, they are launching multiple arguments against you; so many arrows at once debilitate your defence line. You slip into an emotional inferno. Efforts throttled, reality cracked, future uncertain, identity in crisis and exhausted, you concede. Or something that feels similar.
To get over failure or to get something out of failure? The former happens in due course with or without dull distractions. Humans forget. The latter is a choice that sets people leagues apart. Iron is moulded when hot. The kernel of your future fortune lies in complexity, curiosity, and rethinking. Emotional anarchy dealt mindfully will expedite your transformation to ingenious.
We acknowledge the range of emotions awash and approach them with curiosity. If your carte blanche personified hollers an untrue ‘You are always irresponsible!’, ask them what evidence would change their mind. Introduce the thought spectrum. Thoughts aren’t in black or white, many shades of grey exist in the midst. I agree that I have acted in such a way. How often was I irresponsible? How severe was the impact? Did it seem intentional? How does this make you feel? There is a genuine interest in asking and answering. Don’t you think weighted average explains better than a whim?
George Kelly observed that we become especially hostile when defending opinions that we know, deep down, are false. If you see that your loved one’s notions are unbudging, reconsider the mental energy expended. People steeped in prejudice are like trains that only run straight, missing turns & stops, until derailment. What if they happen to themselves? Their vanity and assumptions would have gone up in smoke when the emotional stampede reverses.
A lesson that I learned recently is about confident humility. ‘We are prone to overconfidence in situations where it’s easy to confuse experience for expertise, like driving, typing, trivia, and managing emotions’ says Grant. It wouldn’t serve us well if I published my first draft because I write not in knowledge but towards knowledge. So would it benefit us to hold on to opinions or views first formed in 2001? Hardly.
Confidence is a measure of how much you believe in yourself. Evidence shows that’s distinct from how much you believe in your methods. You can be confident in your ability to achieve a goal in the future while maintaining the humility to question whether you have the right tools in the present.