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The Power Of Keeping Your Identity Small In A Changing World

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.

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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

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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.

Charlie Munger

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.”

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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Disagreement is healthy

It is essential for success. It’s the hallmark of an engaged and involved team member. And it opens the way for testing and improving new ideas.

It should also be treated as a chance t...

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 more, be willing to change your perspective on disagreement and learn to better your arguments.

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.”

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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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Acknowledging our ignorance

The modern world does not encourage people to admit when they lack knowledge or skills.
However, when we don't acknowledge our ignorance, we limit our chances for personal improvement.

The Dangers of Certainty

Although we are naturally curious as children, school teaches us that there is a specific set of facts to memorize and that we should not question these facts. If we don't know something, we're taught to guess.

Once the curiosity has been driven out of us in school and we're moving into the workforce, we're even less likely to say we don't know.

We feign certainty

We're afraid to admit when we don't know something for sure and expect not to see uncertainty in others. It can be disastrous.

Consider the case in which a business spent hundreds of millions on an ineffective advertising campaign because they refused even to ask if it was working.

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