Principles 1.3

"BE RADICALLY OPEN-MINDED AND RADICALLY TRANSPARENT"


Let's break down these two ideas.


"Be radically open-minded" is hinting at having a high risk-tolerance, a growth mindset, and a penchant for the novel and creative.


It's not arguing to treat your anxiety with Ketamine, buy Bitcoin, or jump off a bridge because the cool kids are doing it. It's saying, "Hey, maybe there's some truth I'm missing. Let's go search for some facts and fairly evaluate all options, even the ones that may seem absurd on the surface."


It also suggests taking a good, close look at everything you 'know' to be true, cautions against confirmation bias, and urges for change of opinion in the face of compelling information.


These are hard things to do, and not everyone will want to do them, but I believe anyone who wants to live this way can succeed in becoming more open-minded.


Becoming "radically transparent" involves acknowledging failure, facing embarrassment, and speaking with brutal honesty to those you care about.


Nobody enjoys these things. They involve difficult and uncomfortable conversations. But I bet those conversations work.


I can imagine a world where everyone acts in a radically transparent manner. People are honest with each other. Couples discuss painful issues. Students ask meaningful questions. Bosses give valuable feedback. It's a pretty great world, but for many, it's hard to give and harder to accept direct criticism. Instead of taking feedback as an engine for growth, many take it as an affront to their identity. Knowing this, those who want to be radically transparent with their criticisms hold back.


It can also be painful to be radically transparent with yourself and in the way you portray yourself to others. If I ask a random group of 100 people to raise their hands if they think they're more intelligent than average, 65 hands will go up. It's hard to be transparent with others if you can't first be honest with yourself.


Imagine a person you consider a hard worker saying the following after a successful sales pitch: "I know the result was good on the Fallon pitch, but I only gave about 80% effort. I need to be more focused next time. I accidentally left a few slides in there that didn't flow as well as they could have. It could have cost us the account."


By owning up to reality and admitting imperfection, these words pave a path towards improvement. It might be tough to admit, but owning up to reality is necessary if progress is the goal.


Still, many won't be able to handle this. Most people try as hard as possible to hide their mistakes or oversell their competence. It hurts to admit to being less than. Feelings are real. Emotions matter. So instead of "Be radically open-minded and radically transparent," I propose a variation on the theme:


"Challenge yourself and those around you to grow more open-minded and transparent."


I think everyone can get on board with that.


© 2020 by Nat Ballenberg