In a guest post on Scott Adam’s Blog, Diana Wales poses the question: “Have You Ever Changed Your Mind?” She writes: “Humans are stubborn creatures. For most people, once they pick a side, their decision making is over – forever. Any evidence that might indicate that maybe there is a better option is ignored or derided, unless they perceive obvious and significant personal benefits for making a change. And even then they might hold fast. I used to live in Chicago, and I knew some Cubs fans that were more likely to change their gender than their allegiance to the Cubbies, despite a century of disappointment.”
And we all know people like this, so it’s an easy premise to accept. I think her observation is flawed, but it’s still a great post because, like so many that Scott writes, it encourages introspection and suggests spending some brain cycles on thought experiment, which can so often result in productive connections elsewhere in one’s life. So when Diana asks, “…have you had some other epiphany that caused you to change your stance on a fundamental choice, like your political affiliations, religion, right to bear arms, or choice of smart phone, and if so, what was it? What does it take to change a mind?” I was compelled to answer.
While it may not constitute true “change,” in his book “How to Fail…” Scott influenced me to re-evaluate my view of goals vs. systems and how I use both. Am I more change-minded than most? Probably, but still…
Yes, humans are stubborn, often irrationally so, but contrary to her premise I believe that change is more the norm than the exception — unless one constrains their observation to the short term or limits their definition of change to full diametric shifts.
Certainly by the mid-twenties (if not the late teens) peoples’ beliefs and behavioral parabolas have solidified, often requiring external pressure or catastrophe to shift. But major changes can come over time, driven by a steady drumbeat of media, evolving social mores, economic incentives, or accumulating frustrations. Or, some might argue, aging. Not as dramatic as an epiphany, granted, but still substantive change, right?
Bio: I grew up a Navy brat, then enlisted in the U.S. Army Infantry at age 21. I entered as a private, earned selection for and admission into Officer Candidate School, then spent the rest of the time wearing bars. After several years training force-on-force unit combat in the Mojave with the Army's elite mechanized OPFOR, and then the joy of command while at Fort Carson, CO, which included the challenges and rewards of taking a company of soldiers to Iraq and bringing them all home safely, I left the military in search of new experiences.
Like many who leave the military, I hit some hiccups trying to figure out how to communicate to civilians that a decade of training soldiers to aggressively close with and kill the enemy was experience that would translate swimmingly into their company culture. Eventually I overcame that communication challenge. That led to several years doing the "corporate thing," pursuing a career that led from retail to IT, following my passions for computers and communications developed as a(n) (unlikely) hobby while a soldier.
In the late nineties, I had the good fortune to hire into one of the pioneer companies in the (then new) massively multiplayer online game industry. While there I saw opportunity to start my own company and used all my experiences (and no small amount of learning new skills on the fly!) to build an online payment processing company.
My first company, PayByCash, brought local non-credit-card payment methods from around the world to Internet content providers with one very simple integration. After growing for 8 years and earning the trust of the largest game content providers in the world (and most of the smaller ones as well), we merged with a VC-funded Silicon Valley company and were later acquired by Visa.
In my on-again-off-again "retirement," as a serial entrepreneur, I develop (and occasionally launch) new ventures. When not torturing myself with the responsibility to nurse my whackadoodle ideas into profitability, I spend the time with my family that I rarely had when running my first (and to date most successful) company.
And I write, sporadically and spasmodically. When not writing, I race cars and enjoy improving my skills in the shooting sports.
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