One of the defining features of the human condition

Each of us has fundamental set of beliefs that are so ingrained in our society and culture and tribal history, that we hardly know they exist, much less examine the validity of them. 

And so, the moment an outsider questions something that we have already put away in our drawers, the whole house shakes. 

It’s part of the human survival mechanism. We reflexively press the delete button on anything that bumps up against our beliefs. Any evidence to the contrary is shunned as traitorous. Because the standing order of the species is:

Keep the spirits happy, keep the tribe’s nest warm and show allegiance to the clan

It’s just easier and safer and more comforting to stay full of crushing certainty. After all, if a person can just believe something, they don’t have to think for themselves. Who has the time to do that kind of work? 

Debono’s research on lateral thinking challenges this kind of rock logic. He suggests that a belief system is a way of perceiving the world that prevents us from testing the validity of that belief. And that absolutes, truth and certainty in our thinking habits are dangerous. 

Instead, he says, our goal is to be promiscuous in our pursuit of ideas. To remain open to the complete possibility of what might be. 

A helpful exercise for strengthening this muscle is to get together with a group of people and honestly ask each other the following question. 

What did you believe five years ago that now makes you wonder, what was I thinking? 

People’s answers will floor you. Including your own. Because we all outgrow some of our beliefs. We all place our faith in ideas that fail us. And we all hang onto opinions that are too convenient to be killed. 

This spiritual imperfection is one of the defining features of the human condition. 

But scrambling around with a hammer, trying to turn everything we find into a nail, that deflects us from accepting our humanity. Only when we stay open to the complete possibility of what might be, do we become what we really are. 

Peikoff, the legendary professor of philosophy, said it best:

Like every living thing, including in their own way the lilies of the field, a human being, if he is to gain his ends, must toil and spin. 


What belief have you held on to that has out lived it usefulness in your life? 


For the list called, “99 Ways to Think Like an Entrepreneur, Even If You Aren’t One,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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