- “Ch-ch-changes / Turn and face the strange” – David Bowie
One of the most essential and most difficult skills in embracing failure is the ability to change your mind.
Seth Godin describes the challenge in his post What does it sound like when you change your mind?:
- “It took me eighteen months to change my mind. Actually, that’s not true. It took me about five minutes to change my mind, after eighteen months of being wrong. I still remember how it felt to feel that flip switch in my head. This is one of the assets of youth, and something that’s worth seeking out and maintaining. That flip, the ability, when confronted with a world that doesn’t match the world in your head, to say, ‘wait, maybe I was wrong.’ We’re not good at that. Science brings us overwhelming data about the truth of washing hands before surgery, of the age and origin of species, about the efficacy of placebos, and the natural instinct is push those facts away, rather than find that moment where were can shift our thinking. If you needed to, could you argue passionately for that thing you don’t believe in today? Could you imagine walking over to the other side of the new argument, to once again hear that sound? That’s the essential skill of thriving in a world that’s changing fast.”
A great example of mind changing is Latif Nasser’s TED talk “You have no idea where camels really come from” sharing the story of how camel bones were found in the Arctic…
- “But at any moment, you could uncover some tiny bit of evidence. You could learn some tiny thing that forces you to reframe everything you thought you knew. Like, in this case, this one scientist finds this one shard of what she thought was wood, and because of that, science has a totally new and totally counterintuitive theory about why this absurd Dr. Seuss-looking creature looks the way it does. And for me, it completely upended the way I think of the camel. It went from being this ridiculously niche creature suited only to this one specific environment, to being this world traveler that just happens to be in the Sahara, and could end up virtually anywhere.”
Godin refers to this cognitive reset ad “the flip” – “The flip is elusive:
- “For the rest of us, though, the flip isn’t something that happens at the first glance or encounter with new evidence. This doesn’t mean the evidence doesn’t matter. It means that we’re bad at admitting we were wrong. Bad at giving up one view of the world to embrace the other. Mostly, we’re bad at abandoning our peers, our habits and our view of ourselves. If you want to change people’s minds, you need more than evidence. You need persistence. And empathy. And mostly, you need the resources to keep showing up, peeling off one person after another, surrounding a cultural problem with a cultural solution.”
A common refrain in the coronavirus commentary is that the pandemic "changes everything”. Maybe that will include a number of minds.