Monday, April 17, 2017

Changing Your Mind

It's a lot of fun being young.  You can drink til all hours and still get up for work.  You can be in shape without ever going to the gym.  You also get to passionately criticize everything since you own very little and have even less to lose.  You can be a socialist, a communist, a Democrat or a Republican.  You can support Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan or Donald Trump.  It doesn't matter:

If things improve, you get to enjoy it.  If things get worse, you still haven't lost, because you were never invested in the first place.

Being young with no skin in the game is like when an online equities trader lets you practice trading stocks without using real money.  It's not your money.  It's all a big game.  And as long as you can get by, you're just fine.

Of course, that philosophy only works while you're genuinely young.  It doesn't work so well for Baby Boomers with families or their unemployed offspring, both of whom suffer from genuinely prolonged adolescence.  No matter which capital letter sociologists have slapped on to your particular generation, the fact is that more than ever before, we exist in a Nation of Children, where everyone ages but nobody matures.

I've ranted about this before in other blogs, but there's one aspect of maturity that seems to have slipped through the cracks:  The ability to change your mind.

Somewhere along the line, the media and various socially retarded organizations have issued an edict that nobody anywhere, at any time, is permitted to change his opinion for any reason.  Consistency, they argue, is a sign of virtue and stalwart character.  I submit to you it's just the opposite.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson eloquently stated, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," meaning that consistency for its own sake is, well, kind of stupid.

Stick with me for a few more paragraphs on this.  You'll like it.

To succeed in life, you have to adapt to its constant changes, which means there's very little that doesn't require periodic re-evaluation.  Just because something worked like a charm before doesn't mean it has the same chance of succeeding again now.  Think I'm wrong?  Try selling eight track tapes or touring the streets of Tehran.  Good ideas back in the seventies.  Now, not so much.

If life evolves, then it only makes sense for our opinions, values and tactics to evolve right along with it.  I see this everywhere.  When I question my client's methods and tactics, they frequently answer with puzzled responses like, "But we've always done it that way."  To which I usually answer, "Yes, but that's why you're failing now. What you're doing no longer works."

Easy enough to accept in a business environment, but for some reason, not so easy to accept in the political sphere.  Whether you like him or not, Donald Trump is the first president that actually understands the concept of evolution, and that consistency for its own sake yields nothing more than predictability.  It's also the basis for making bad decisions when you consider that the world is not at all like it was five, ten or fifty years ago.

Look around your own world.  What hasn't changed in your own life in the past four years?  Ten years?  Since your childhood?  My money says that far more has changed than hasn't, that your own life would be hobbled and that you would be paralyzed were you not able to jettison or alter your old opinions when faced with new circumstances.

Or maybe not.

You could choose to hold your breath, stamp your feet and demand that everything remain consistent because that's the way you like it. But the world would still go on and you'd be left with nothing but your eight track tapes.