Don’t go out with beautiful ideas
A good idea is just a thought, but thoughts grow. Be aware that new ideas turn into beliefs. Beliefs turn into behaviors. Over time, behaviors turn into habits, and habits define our character. Watch those ideas!
Our natural tendency
We willingly take on attractive ideas, often without questioning them. They just look good, don’t they? We also reject unattractive ideas too easily, and too often without questioning. They are ugly, we want to get them out of our sight. For attractive ideas, we look for any supporting evidence we can find. Then we stop there. For unattractive ideas, we look for an contradictory evidence and stop there. No balance. Those ideas turn into beliefs, and before we know it, we have a belief system which looks good to us, but may not be representative of reality at all.
Reversing this trend is critical for success and sanity. The alternative is a head full of pretty ideas, where pretty does not always mean good. It is often said that the truth is beautiful, but a deception can seem just as pretty, until you see it for what it is. A deceptive idea is just that, by definition it misleads you. If we have been deceived about something, we are, by definition, unaware of the deception. Think about it.
Spotted any beautiful ideas recently? Everyone gets deceived by wrong ideas at some point. Once deceived, it is hard to reason our way out. Over time reality slips further and further away, buried under layers of wrong ideas. The best way to escape from a deception is not to be deceived in the first place. Easier said than done. Check out new ideas as they come in the door, even before you head out on the first date with them. Don’t judge them by how attractive they at first seem, judge them by how true they are. What is the consequence of that new idea? If it seems attractive, check for contradictory evidence to that idea. If it seems unattractive, is there any supporting evidence that has been missed? Has the idea been examined in a broad enough context – is it over- or under-generalizing. Is it taking something we found to be true and applying it in a new context where it is not longer valid?
Ideas are just ideas. In the end, action is what counts, but action is exactly what creates the consequences for a beautiful idea. Wrong ideas, wrong actions.