The Three Taboos — Become the Smartest in the Room

better-decision-makingSex, Religion and Politics.

We’re not supposed to talk about them, but why do we ignore the most interesting topics of our culture?

It’s because we’re afraid to hear that our vision of reality may be wrong.

We are a species of tribes. We need to belong, so we adopt labels.

Republican, Vegetarian and Muslim are examples.

When locked into an ideology, your identity is structured on the validity of that belief system.

When your identity is at stake you have a self-preserving incentive to reject conflicting ideas — even after they’ve become irrational.

The Flat Earth Society still exists.

If you ignore alternative views, it’s foolish to insist your way is right.

It’s interesting how hostile people are to new ideas.

No one can prove or disprove a god, yet millions die in religious wars.

That’s irrational.

With experience, most learn the world is not as simple as once thought.

Black and white turns to shades of gray.

I learned this as a young police officer.

To inspire cops and soldiers, there must be “good” and “bad” guys.

Us” versus “them.”

But sometimes those making the laws are the “bad guys.”

And sometimes the laws are not about morals, but instead about power and greed.

When young soldiers no longer believe they’re fighting “evil,” killing another man becomes more difficult.

Polarizing the majority, keeps the minority in power.

It’s naïve to reach complex decisions from sound bites, click bait headlines, or 140 characters, yet that’s what most do.

Once formed, it’s near impossible to get someone to change their opinion, because doing so would acknowledge you were once wrong.

But the smart ones put their egos aside.

Those with the most wisdom have the courage to admit that they do not know.

A few tips on making better decisions

  • Speak less, Listen more.
  • Question everything.
  • Invite ideas that conflict with yours
  • Ignore credentials. You can learn from everyone.
  • Accept that what you know today, will probably be proven wrong later.

Photo: I took this at Avila Beach, California

2 Replies to “The Three Taboos — Become the Smartest in the Room”

  1. Ignore credentials. You can learn from everyone” is something I teach my new firefighters. It doesn’t matter how many buguls they have on their collar, or how many years they have in the field. Sometimes a fresh idea out weighs experience.

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