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The Power Of Keeping Your Identity Small In A Changing World

Charlie Munger

“I never allow myself to have an opinion on anything that I don’t know the other side’s argument better than they do.”

Charlie Munger

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The Power Of Keeping Your Identity Small In A Changing World

The Power Of Keeping Your Identity Small In A Changing World

https://medium.com/personal-growth/paul-graham-the-power-of-keeping-your-identity-small-in-a-changing-world-7b7ed2175717

medium.com

7

Key Ideas

Identities and core beliefs

We build our lives around certain core beliefs. And discussing them will most likely yield anger and indignation (i.e discussing religion or politics).

We usually fail to adjust to the evidence put before us regarding these beliefs. Because to have them torn down would be to admit that a large part of our reality is false.

Do the work required

Rather than be opinionated, we should strive to be informed.

We should know the other side’s argument better than they know theirs. Instead of attacking a straw man, aim to knock down the strongest version of an argument you disagree with.

Diversify into multiple domains

The best way to keep your identity small is to enter multiple domains.

Diversifying means that you won’t commit and defend a position simply because it’s so tied to your identity. It stops you from attaching a label to yourself.

Actively seek out change

Seek out disconfirming evidence. Challenge the status quo. Have strong opinions, but hold them loosely. Avoid becoming a prisoner of your own expertise.

When you know it’s likely you’ll be wrong over time, you’re less likely to attach your identity to a fixed position.

Paul Graham

Paul Graham

“When experts are wrong, it’s often because they’re experts on an earlier version of the world.”

The purpose of conversations

Conversations are supposed to generate new ideas, not to turn into heated arguments. 

But that will most likely be the result when we discuss anything that’s central to our identity.

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Difficult to convince

It can feel impossible to persuade someone with strong views. This is in part because we look for information to confirm what we already know and avoid or dismiss facts that are opposed to our core...

What resonates with your opponent

We all tend to overrate the power of arguments we find convincing, and wrongly think the other side will be converted. It is pointless to argue a point that your opponents have already dismissed.

The answer is not to simply expose people to another point of view. Find out what resonates with them. Frame your message with buzzwords that reflect their values.

Use moral framing

To try and sway the other side, use their morals against them. People have stable morals that influence their worldview. 

However, reframing in terms of values might not turn your opponent's view, but can soften his stance and get him to listen to counterarguments.

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The art of disagreement

Mastering the art of considerate disagreement means expressing your beliefs without shutting down the discussion or angering the other side.

For this to happen, you have to listen mor...

Ed Catmull
Ed Catmull
“You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when they are challenged.”
Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio
“I’ve seen people who agree on the major issues waste hours arguing over details. It’s more important to do the big things well than the small perfectly.”

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Changing Your Identity
Changing Your Identity

We mistakenly attempt to change our habits while keeping our core identity. As we play our different roles, we have to switch to different identities, like a father, teacher, reader, spea...

Benefits Of Changing Your Identity
  1. Changing your identity will automatically lead you to discard some behaviours that are not associated with that identity, helping you stop smoking or eating meat, for example.
  2. Your behaviour will align with the behaviour of the chosen identity.
  3. You will not have to lecture yourself every day about your motivations.
  4. You will be surprised about the many old beliefs about your abilities suddenly vanishing.
  5. The mindset change will bring new growth and new possibilities.
How To Change Your Identity
  1. The best and fastest way to change your identity is to do it intentionally and consciously.
  2. Visualize yourself as the person in the new identity, like a writer, a minimalist, a non-smoker or a vegan, and write down the same to reflect on it.
  3. Get into action mode and see yourself being the new person, like getting up in the morning and witnessing yourself wearing the running shoes and going out for a run. See yourself in your new identity while in action.
  4. Appreciate and reinforce your new identity on yourself and be the change. See how easy it is to be an early riser or a runner or a writer.
  5. If you miss a day or two, don’t give up and visualize yourself as the new identity handling the disruption.