One of the toughest things I’ve had to done in my life is to stop polarizing conversations.
For many years I would go all in at any opportunity to prove I was right. That turned into endless debates, screaming, yelling and a whole lot of undesirable consequences.
As I grew more mature, I started realizing things aren’t always black or white. I know it sounds pretty obvious, but trust me, it’s not. Most people talk about the scale of grays, but then they do a very different thing. Welcome to the world of cognitive dissonance.
I still operated pretty much in black and whites
I’ve always tried to be as consistent as possible. If I talk about something, it’s because I believe in it. I’ll try to enforce it in my daily life as much as possible. Eventually, I’ll get better.
One day I realized that, despite being rational about multiple solutions to the same problem, I still operated pretty much in black and whites.
So I decided to start pausing every time I saw myself doing that. This turned into a habit. I still think in black and whites, but I also bring into play the gray scale.
As rational beings, we like nice and clean. We like well-delimited concepts. We love being able to trace the boundaries.
But what the heck is the grayscale? It’s pretty straightforward really. It’s about understanding that nothing, no concept, no decision, no emotion is precisely cut. As rational beings, we like nice and clean. We like well-delimited concepts. We love being able to trace the boundaries.
That’s not how the world works. That’s not how the universe works. That’s just a human construct, so we don’t go crazy. That’s why, despite all the effort, we will always play with black and whites. But, this understanding brings clarity.
Many people struggle with making the “right” decision, where “right” can take up many different meanings
Leadership is a good example. As leaders, we need to manage people. We have to deal with all kinds of nasty situations. Fights. Jealousy. Laziness. Anger. You name it. Many people struggle with making the “right” decision, where “right” can take up many different meanings. Is it right for you? Does it make you feel comfortable? Does it goes against your values? Right for others? For the brand?
My point is that there are no right decisions. No correct answers. Not a clear path to take. Even when it seems obvious, it tends to be exponentially more complicated than we care to see.
In the end, there are only decisions, new paths and dealing with the consequences. Sometimes the choices we take are smarter, others they aren’t. We learn, we iterate, but it never gets easier.
Do remember the gray scale next time you have to deal with a dilemma. What is right? What’s good? What’s special? Be brave, carve your way and be consistent and be open to multiple interpretations.
The world would be sorrowful indeed if it were only compromised of black and whites. Enjoy spicy, enjoy cheeky, enjoy safe, enjoy simple, but enjoy.