Opinions and Elbows? Huh?

Opinions and elbows

Opinions and Elbows? Huh? Do you have an opinion? Why, you judgemental person you! Sorry, but it’s true. Your opinions ARE a form of judgements … attitudes or positions we have chosen to take, based on an information set (or in some cases, the lack thereof!).

Opinions are great. They are like guardrails through the uncertainty of life. But they are not certain and they should also not be permanent. Scientists call them hypotheses, and they are constantly testing them. Maybe we should all be.

Judgement is akin to attachment … we have applied our hearts, our minds, our knowledge and our instincts and arrived at a position. An answer if you will. And then we act on that opinion … over, and over, and over and over …

Before you know it, it’s a habit, part of your identity. Effectively it becomes a blind spot, a form of cognitive bias.

And nothing stands in the way of growth, change, creativity and innovation like cognitive bias. We really are a fallible bunch, us humans. Constantly seeking patterns in the chaos, then acting as if the patterns are real and then acting as if they are the only patterns, wilfully blinding ourselves to all the other possible answers out there.

And that’s what is so dangerous about judgement and opinions … that we blind ourselves. Literally, by taking a particular story onboard, we actively deny the other options.

It is for this reason that the first step in problem-solving, innovation or any creative thought, is to intellectually release our attachment to what we already know (or think we know) and believe … and to actively strike out into the sea of ambiguity and complexity that is the real world, in search of alternatives.

Mark Twain famously said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

He wasn’t just being a liberal lefty when he said that. His statement holds the recognition that popular opinion is a sort of automation, a shortcut to thought. It means that when consensus is reached, critical thinking stops.

Our world never stands still. It never has and now it is moving faster than ever. Old truths simply no longer hold true. And yet we cling to them. Secure somehow in the idea that a firmly held belief is part of who and what we are. Terrified of the abyss that lurks beneath the surface of our well-curated story of self.

Well, I’ve got news for you. It’s all just a story, a habit, a pattern. And it can be different because it is not absolute or final. But to find a different ‘you,’ a different reality (or the perception thereof, which is much the same thing), you need to let go of your opinions, release judgement and discover the amazing expanse of uncertainty from which new realities can be mined.

Mavericks do this unconsciously all the time, seeking improvement, betterment and fulfilment. 

The status quo is no more than an opinion.

Let’s question it.