Usually when two people think alike, it’s because one of them is not thinking. Let me submit that agreeing with anyone for a prolonged length of time won’t make the world a better place. Rather, disagreement is powerful and it is how we make the world better.
Need some evidence? Our legal system is based on arguments about the law which is far from black and white. In fact, these shades of gray are the basis of any legal argument. Like the law, few things in life are actually defined with black and white specificity. Rather, we must make choices.
Choices can be hard to make and that is because the potential outcomes are not always clear. This is why many people avoid making choices and some may let things happen as they may. It is easier that way. Not better.
Business people must make quick decisions. Unlike the lawyer, executives and business owners often have little time to deliberate. It can be a lonely feeling and fear can dominate your thought process to the point of being disabling. Obviously, we want to do the right thing. If time allows, seeking the advice of a close friend or colleague is a common course of action.
Here lies the challenge. Too often we seek advice from friends and family with the intent of getting our ideas validated or approved; it is no accident that these people think like we do. This validation makes us feel better and enables us to go forward, but this tacit approval may be the wrong advice.
Enter the power of disagreement. Instead, seek out a trusted adviser who thinks differently than you do. You will recognize this person (also known as a contrarian) by his or her behavior. They vote differently than you do, like foods that you don’t, and don’t watch the same movies as you. It can be very uncomfortable to be around them.
The “certified” contrarian will likely view a situation or decision from a different angle. That other perspective is where the power of disagreement resides — the other party may see things that you do not. You may have blind spots or biases that could propel you to make the wrong choice. Listen to the argument from someone who does not think like you do. They may help you make a more informed decision.
Disagreement is good.
John Bradley Jackson
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