If You Want To Be ‘Right’, Be Willing To Change Your Mind A Lot

If You Want To Be ‘Right’, Be Willing To Change Your Mind A Lot

Nobody ever wants to hold onto the “wrong” point of view for an extended period of time. Speaking with 37 Signals, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos points out that the only way you can be “right” most of the time is if you’re willing to change your mind a lot.

Photo by Richard Elzey.

During a Q&A session at 37 Signals, Bezos shares this insight:

He said people who were right a lot of the time were 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.

The idea is that you should consider your point of view as temporary. It’s always changing, and if you come to a point where you want to go back and re-evaluate an idea, that’s not a bad thing. We’re all wrong a lot of the time, and backtracking on an opinion shows that you’re open to new ideas that challenge the way you view the world. After all, remember that, only imbeciles never change their minds.

Some advice from Jeff Bezos [37 Signals]


  • This is basically the problem I have with organised religion, people are largely taught one set of thoughts, ideas and principals and told that they are the only correct ways to live, rethinking the ideas is heresy.

    While most of what they’re taught is good, I still much prefer it when people are taught to re-evaluate their assumptions when new information comes to light, rather than trying to fit the new information into their old mind set.

    • Very much agree.

      One of the things that I find frustrating about many of our politicians (and/or ‘Leaders’) is their determination to remain consistent – even in the face of emerging evidence to the contrary.

      Those (alarmingly few) that I admire seem prepared to change their position (even admit that perhaps they were wrong!) and always remain open to new ideas.

      The risk with this approach is that sometimes decisions are not made. Getting the balance right between, on the one hand, being open to new information and ideas, and, on the other, acting in a timely fashion – isn’t simple. Simple is sticking to your guns even when the evidence is dead against you. Simple is what we get too often.

    • I mostly agree.

      But It’s not just simply “people”, but children specifically, that are told one set of ideas and ways to live, since they can’t exactly analyse every new piece of knowledge and determine it’s validity with critical reasoning.
      Once they grow up, in my religion at least, Protestant Christian, we aren’t forbidden from thinking and questioning whatever we want. The same can’t be said for some others though.

      Actually teaching people to re-evaluate their assumptions? That’s what schools and parents are for 😛
      You go to organised religions to evaluate them before becoming part of them. It’s assumed you already know how to re-evaluate your assumptions before you go.

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