How to Let Go of Bad Ideas
Why do we believe bad ideas, even when presented evidence that our ideas are wrong? Ego and fear are the answer.
If you imagine an idea is yours, then letting go of that idea is like selling a cherished family heirloom. “It’s been in the family for centuries,” you say while packing it up again during your latest move and stashing it away in yet another cellar.
Even worse is when someone tries to persuade you that your idea is inaccurate. Now it’s a fight. It’s personal. Someone is trying to take something dear and precious from you.
What ideas are uniquely yours? I’ve had people claim I stole their ideas, only to show them my own article appeared first, and of course I’ve thought, “This guy ripped me off,” only to realize his article appeared first. Not even 1% of our ideas are ours. They’ve come from somewhere else, usually your culture.
Surely it’s your idea that all men and women are created equally. You only believe that because you were born into America or Western Europe. If you had been born in Sparta, you’d have thought otherwise. If you had been born in Pakistan (“servants”) or India (“untouchables”) or Saudi Arabia (sex slavery), you’d have entirely differently ideas while nonetheless proclaiming those ideas to be yours.
A little groupthink can be a good thing. We live in society around other people and evolved to desire to be liked. Shame hurts because it’s deep within our DNA that shame is disapproval, and in darker days, disapproval would mean murder or ostracism.
Did you know men used to wear wigs and tights? If you dressed like a Founding Father today (alpha males who risked being hanged for their cause), you’d be called names. There are times to go with the flow. As Thomas Jefferson said, “”In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
Yet going with the flow is quite different from believing you are the flow. Riding a wave and making a wave are two separate endeavors, though ego convinces surfers there are the ocean.
Groupthink, especially in a debased society, leads to disaster. Remember when everyone knew that housing never goes down in value? Everyone included the Chairman of the Fed, the President of the United States, both houses of Congress, and your 25-year-old neighbor.
Remember when everyone knew that going into debt for college was a wise investment?
Everyone knew PayPal was a terrible idea, which is why PayPal paid people $25 for using the service.
Today everyone knows that Russia has declared war on the United States. At least the same everyone who knew that housing bubbles didn’t exist, that 18-year olds should go into six-figure debt for a college education, and that Donald J. Trump had an 8% ceiling and thus would not win the Republican primary. (You do keep track of what people have said in the past when evaluating what they are saying in the present?)
Let go of your bad ideas. Here’s how.
Don’t take being wrong personally.
If your ideas are not yours, why care if those ideas are attacked? You are you. The ideas you choose to hold dear are how you live your life. Better ideas means a better life. Bad ideas are like a spare tire around your waist. Do you take it personally when you lose fat? You have lost part of yourself, haven’t you? Yet you rejoice. Adopt the same mindset when losing bad ideas.
Remind yourself that bad ideas ruin lives.
I saw too many friends go into bankruptcy after the housing bubble burst. I avoided that fate because I never purchased a home, though other bad ideas have cost me dearly.
Ask how much money you would bet on your ideas.
If your ideas are true and good, surely you’ll wager on them?
Do you know how many people cowered away from election bets? Everyone knew who would win the election, and few would put their money where their mouths were.
If you wouldn’t bet on an idea you hold on the world, then do you believe the idea to be true?
Embrace uncertainty as an opportunity for growth.
What is the element of every horror film? Suspense. Uncertainty. We cling onto certain beliefs, even when those beliefs are wrong, because in a state of nature surprise usually meant some form of attack from wolverines, tsunamis, and blizzards.
Hold true to ideas about gravity, as they will keep you alive. Remain fluid on ideas about the nature of the human condition, as other people have lives of their owns and those lives are influenced by an ever-changing zeitgeist.
Recognizing you are wrong today gives you an opportunity to be right tomorrow.
Winning big, by definition, started off as a disagreement with conventional wisdom.
Business students learn about the first-mover advantage, which is “the advantage gained by the initial (‘first-moving’) significant occupant of a market segment.” Business students are not taught the mindset of the first moving.
Moving first means going where others aren’t going. When people see you headed in the “wrong” direction, they will let you know. Whoever says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me,” is lying. Talk to some Army Rangers or pro fighters who have been smashed in the face or shot at for a living about how it feels to take a business risk. Rejection hurts, shame hurts, yes those negative slave emotions can be overcome. It takes mindset training.
We all hold bad ideas. My own head is full of them, though the trick is that I don’t know which ones are bad.
You’ll never root out all of the bad ideas, but training your focus on identifying them will help you discover the good ideas.
Here are a few good ideas I’ve discovered.
The media is owned by globalist elites who enrich themselves off of the blood and toil of the people. The media elite will always agitate for wars. Iran was our biggest threat! When that idea didn’t catch on, the media began war-mongering against Russia. Show me a year in your entire life when the media didn’t have some foreign boogeyman to scare us with. War is $$$, and the same corporations who own the fake news media owns the fighter jets, bombs, and tanks.
Never marry for love. Love is nice. Shared compatibility matters more. You’ll be spending a lot of time with the person you “love,” and if you want to spend your time differently, there will be drama.
Relationships do not take a lot of work. That is a scam started by people who married for puppy love. (It happened to me, so I am not throwing stones.) If a relationship takes a lot of work, you are not compatible.
Invest 80% of your money in a low-cost ETF. Forget about the 80%. Unless we are eating canned food and fighting off bandits, the 80% will always grow slowly but surely. Make high-risk bets with the other 20%. If you lack the discipline to limit your bets to 20%, check into a gambling rehab institute.
Your emotions are a choice. How you feel is a choice you make in the present moment. It takes decades to fully master your emotions, and there is no greater reward than having control over yourself – as that will impact every personal relationship you have.
Embarrassment is growth. When is the last time you felt blood rush to your cheeks? Embarrassment is shame, and shame occurs when you are going against conventional wisdom (or feel that way). Once you overcome shame, you are free.
Gorilla Mindset is the best mindset book ever written. That’s why I wrote it.
Confessional. What is the WORST idea you’ve had about the world or yourself?
You should feel a bit embarrassed. Go!