Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Power of Changing Your Mind

When the facts change, I change my mind -- what do you do, sir?

John Maynard Keynes, economist and pragmatist.

Despite risking my credentials as a self-supposed political commentator, and the added tease of a Keynes quotation, this post is not going to be about the looming Federal Budget hand down tonight.
I am giving up whatever chance at economic clairvoyance I have in order to write about the power of changing your mind instead, because it's important. There will be many more times to dissect Abbott's ghastly budget in full, unfortunately, but right now, I want to talk about facts, not fiction.

The Half-Life of Facts, the book I was besotted with last week, gave me much reason for thought. Facts are not facts forever. In fact, they change and are made redundant all the time. If it was July 19, 1969, and you said that man had not landed on the moon, you would have been absolutely correct. If you had stated the same thing the very next day, you would have been absolutely wrong. There are people who still think that man has not landed on the moon, but they are known as conspiracy theorists, and Buzz Aldrin actually punched one once. Seems a little crazy to hold on to ideas that are patently untrue. So why do we not change our minds more often, especially when most of the facts and ideas we base our opinions on are probably out of date already?

I have some thoughts on this I'd like to share with you.

My Mum loves me just how I am. The best example I have of this is when it comes to my never-ending job hopping (I have had over 25 jobs already and I am 27. See the appendix at the end of this post if you don't believe me). Basically, for me, nearly every job starts out ok, but then the glitter wears off rather quickly and I am stuck with the stay or go conundrum. No points for guessing what happens next. My brother, on the other hand, finished a four year apprenticeship without once stopping to do something else, has been in love with the same person for the last 7 years and is definitely on track to own more spaces on the Brisbane Monopoly board of than I ever will (but Monopoly is evil anyway, who wants to win a game by sending their friends broke?).

My Mum works for herself, and she has a heap of clients that she travels to see that absolutely love her. They all know about me too, because, well, she's my Mum and I'm a good topic of conversation. If you asked my Mum what my brother is up to, more often than not you are going to get the same answer - house, job, good. Ask her what I'm doing and the answer usually starts with "Well..."

Clients often say to her, "Oh, I thought Nicole was doing x" and then Mum has to explain that x was at least three months ago and that things have changed since then. Changing my mind (and my job) so often is kind of scary, but I am a firm believer in being an active participant in life and not just going along with a plan you made a year ago just because you said you would. Many would say I am fickle, or uncommitted. I would say I'm in this life for the long haul and won't stop changing my situation until I am completely satisfied with it. It's working so far.

I am now going to explain how important it is to change your mind when situations change by way of a little fantasy I have - namely taking on Gina Rinehart one on one. I'm going to do this (hypothetically) twice, and you have to decide who you are going to back to win each time and why. Remember that the aim is to win here, to be correct. No prizes for second.


Ok, Gina vs Nicole scenario number one.

Gina and Nicole are both on the panel of Q&A. Nicole is very indignant about everything that Gina has said so far, and it's reaching fever pitch. Tony (Jones, not Abbott) is trying in earnest to steer the conversation back to safer waters, when things get physical. Gina has just landed a drop of spittle of Nicole's shirt and she doesn't seem the least concerned that Nicole thinks it was done purposefully. She makes a demeaning comment about wiping it off and sucking it up, and that's when it turns ugly.

Ok freeze.

Let's say the cage fight bars come down and the studio lights go to spotlights. Who do you back to win? Nicole has a busted knee, and would usually be agile and light on her toes, but she can't even run right now. Gina is a big woman in a small cage. A body slam could end things.

Me, I'd probably back me up until the point that my knee gives way completely, then I know it's all over. Gina may just be the winner here.

Now for scenario number two.

Gina and Nicole are both single ladies looking for a good man. They both join online dating sites, having taken obligatory selfies showing their best angle. One is a 60 year old mining magnate who, assuming everyone is playing fair, would have to answer the body type question with obese. Facts people, these are facts. Nicole, on the other hand, is a 27 year old political commentator who answered the body question with "fit" because she joined before injuring her knee. In case you haven't seen a recent picture of Gina, or me, here you are:

Assuming that a good man is not someone who is just after money, who would you back to have more luck attracting men online? With only very limited skills in data-mining, you could probably work out the odds yourself. I hope you backed me, I really do.

Being body slammed by Gina is not how I would want to end my time of Earth, but it's probably a pretty accurate ending to scenario one. As for online dating, if I didn't win that contest, eHarmony really need to take a long hard look at how they rate people! I mean, I'm bloody eHarmony approved! (Note to readers: I joined eHarmony because I was curious about their algorithm and how they can claim to match people so well. After answering all the questions, I got a little scared and deleted my account, but there you go).

Situations and their corresponding facts change rapidly. Change may be scary, but if you don't change your mind, you risk being incorrect. Whether you care that you are incorrect or not is up to you, but the fact would remain that you are still incorrect. Sticking to an opinion based on facts that are no longer true can be so much worse than losing face - wars have been lost because of it (a particularly good Black Adder Goes Forth episode comes to mind).

I say to those who are afraid of change - change is the constant. Take in more facts, update your facts regularly and then change your opinion accordingly. In the spirit of this post, I am accepting a challenge from my brother: to analyse the Federal Budget and find both negatives and positives from the position of a Centrist. What I find may change my mind about the Liberal National Party on certain issues; I may even agree with some measures.

I look forward to sharing the opinions I form based on new facts with you next week.

Appendix of Jobs

1. Pharmacy assistant
2. Kitchen hand
3. Fruit packer
4. High ropes instructor
5. Tomato picker
6. Zucchini Picker
7. Fruit Packer (again)
8. Sales assistant at a camera shop
9. Waitress
10. Bar maid at a pub
11.Waitress again
12. Waitress again - (10, 11 and 12 I had all at the same time!)
13. Santa Photographer
14. Fast food outlet manager at a stadium
15. School photographer
16. Working for myself as a photographer
17. Waitress (again)
18. Air Force Officer
19. School Photographer (again)
20. Waitress (again)
21. Media Business Owner
22. Part time bridal store assistant
23. Apple Business Specialist
24. Bridal Store Manager and designer in training
25. Large Retail Company Store Manager

1 comment:

  1. This post is great from top to bottom, as more people should be actively questioning their choices and assumptions.