That Brilliant Idea

Colin Wright writes about getting great ideas out of our head and into the world in his book Considerations, and he hits on all of the roadblocks that  keep our ideas locked away in our imagination.  He addresses the fear we have with bringing our ideas out of our mind and into the world to understand why so many great ideas never materialize.  When I first read through his book I highlighted a section reading, “…scared that perhaps our secret gift for money-making/cancer-curing/potato-chip-flavoring isn’t a gift at all, but just our own arrogance convincing us that we’re something special, when we’re not.”  I highlighted this section because it shows how easily in our minds we can begin to over inflate ourselves thinking we are special and amazing even though we have not accomplished anything.  That is not to say that the only value and measure of our worth is in our accomplishments, but it takes a level of self awareness to see that we are not special simply for having good ideas, or simply because we like the way we think. What can make us great, standout, and feel a level of accomplishment is taking the ideas we have and building upon them. Once we get those ideas out into the world and start working to actualize our thoughts, the special magic flows.

 

Wright addresses why our brilliant ideas often times stay locked in our heads, “The problem with great ideas is that they feel very valuable, and as such are something we want to protect … Part of why we do this is that we’re very proud of ourselves when we have good ideas, part is that we don’t want a competitor equipped with full financial-backing to steal it before we’re ready to act, and part is that we’re scared.”  With my own ideas I have faced all of these challenges.  I am often afraid of acting on my ideas because they may require additional work for me and that I spend extra time focusing on creating my idea rather than lazy leisure activities.  The fear of extra work and difficult challenges is a fear that I have yet to truly confront and overcome, but it is one that I believe I can change with a certain amount of self-awareness.

 

Wright also addresses the idea that another person may steal our idea before it is ready, which makes many of us think that it is better not to discuss our idea with people.  This fallacy can be damaging because it limits our ability to find those who could help us. When we are afraid of telling others about our idea then we miss an opportunity to have someone connect us with other people who can help us, and we miss a chance to have another person’s perspective on our plan. What we may find when we tell as many people about our idea as possible is that there are holes in our plan that other innovators can help us bridge in creative ways.

 

Wright offers one other thought on ideas and why we lock them away in our mind. He believes that we are often too enamored with our idea to let others poke holes in our theories. He states, “…scared that the idea might not be as good as it seems in the variable-less vacuums of our brains.” In our own minds we cannot see the shortcomings of our ideas, or perhaps we just chose not to see the weaknesses of our thoughts. Locked away in our own mind, the idea is pristine and perfect, but once we begin to tell others about our plan it is in danger of being ripped open.  Successful entrepreneurs would tell us that having others challenge aspects of our ideas is a crucial part of success, but on an individual level this can seem to be too much of a threat.

 

Wright encourages us to overcome this anxiety and fear by looking for abundance. Expecting that we will have more great ideas, better opportunities, and more chances to work on ideas in the future can help us feel more comfortable as we begin to develop our ideas. Seeing the success or failure of any idea as a stepping stone makes it seem smaller, reducing the gravity of a potential failure.  If we can approach an idea as a chance to grow, knowing that we will have an abundance of opportunities to act on another ideas or fit in with an existing idea in the future, then we are not paralyzed by the fear of executing an idea.
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Impossible Questions

A few short pages into his book Considerations, author Colin Wright explains the book with the following, “This is not a how-to instructive tome, and you won’t find solutions to all of life’s problems in its pages, but you may find some tools worth using, which you can apply to your own life, your own questions, your own problems, your own perspectives.”  As soon as I read this quote I knew that I had picked up the right book.  Recently I have been working hard to understand other people, their ideas, beliefs, and views of the world, and what I have found is that adopting any single belief about the world and sticking to it is dangerous. Whether that belief is political, ethical, behavioral, or something else, it is dangerous to think that you are correct and that others are wrong, especially if you try to press that idea on to others.

 

What I have also begun to see is that there are many more gray areas in life than we want to live with.  In certain areas we want the explanations and truths to be simple, but in a world of multiple perspectives, backgrounds, and social choices it is difficult to pinpoint the best answer to anything.  What Wright explains in his quote above is that he does not have answers for us, but that he can help us reach better places of understanding. By considering new ideas and being open to change, we can better behave and grow in a way that answers the biggest questions we have.  When I read the quote above I left myself a note, “don’t search for answers, but search for important tools.”  Wright’s idea made me think of the value in living a full life and pursuing a full life through growth.  By looking to expand my toolbox for understanding life, I will reach a more satisfying place.  By looking for answers and truth, I will only feel more discouraged by the vast gray area and the lack of concrete solutions.

Valuable Possessions

Author Colin Wright tends to focus on the idea of perspective in much of his writing, often highlighting the importance of viewing the world from multiple perspectives. He discusses stepping outside your own expectations for the world and trying to understand the viewpoints of people in less fortunate situations than your own. He examines the ideas of people in other cultures and the thoughts of people in the past to help him better understand himself and the pressures he faces on a daily basis.  By adopting so many points of view and being able to see the world from multiple perspectives, Wright believes that we become more connected with the world, better able to connect with people around us, and more well rounded individuals.

In his book Considerations he writes, “I would argue that a well-curated collection of perspectives is one of the most valuable assets a person can possess. Not only does such a collection add richness to everyday life and present solutions to problems we didn’t know existed, it also provides the tools required to solve the big, heady, philosophical-and-hard-to-lock-down problems that all encounter at some point in our lives.”

I love this idea of perspective because it shows the importance of continual growth and learning. By living and accepting our single limited perspective, we allow ourselves to be isolated and unable to adapt as we move through the world with our lives constantly changing.  The adoption of a single view point shuts others out and does not allow us the ability to gain a greater understanding of our lives and the lives of those around us.

What Wright encourages is searching for new perspectives and constantly pushing ourselves by seeking ideas or experiencing cultures that challenge our viewpoint.  Seeking out information that reinforces our beliefs will not give us the same growth as finding information that challenges our perspectives and forces us to think more deeply about our perspectives.  Understanding that other people live with less, have different ideas of success, and face more challenges than we do can be a humbling experience. New perspectives may open us up to a world where we can make a difference in the lives of others, and it can help us have a greater appreciation and joy for our lives.  Living in a world with a singular perspective allows us to lose track of what is important in life, and can lead us in a direction guided by manufactured  ideas of success and happiness.

Inconsiderate

Author Colin Wright starts his book, Considerations with the following paragraph:

 

“Few of us take the time to consider.
     It’s not that we’re ‘inconsiderate’ in the sense that we’re rude or brash or one of the other myriad associations we’ve tacked on to the word over the years, but we are often ‘inconsiderate’ in the sense that we act while seeing the world from only one standpoint: our own.”

 

I love the introduction to Wright’s book because it defines his personal philosophy and reminds me of the importance of having multiple perspectives in life.  when we think of living a life with only a single perspective as living an inconsiderate life, we are opened up to how limited our lives can be.  Wright’s quote helps me understand the importance of learning how others think about and view the world and events that occur.

 

What I find truly unique about Wright’s idea is the combination of actions and considerations. When we sit on our own to read, write, or ponder the world, we can be quite good at working through other people’s perspectives, but it is difficult to take those considerations and apply them to ourselves and our lives in a meaningful way.  It is not difficult to think of others when you are comfortable and have a philosophical book in your hands, but when we are stressed, challenged to do something beyond our comfort zone, or forced to interact with people in new situations, being able to see and perceive beyond our own viewpoint is difficult.

 

In politics, outside of our own individual perspective or the perspective of the politicians we trust and vote for, it is hard to envision anything that would be good for yourself, the country, and all others. We fall into a zone where we believe that a single perspective is the best or only option, and fail to try and see the world through the eyes of others.  I think one of the big challenges in our political system is that we have 300 million perspectives on government, but we try to only acknowledge the one that we believe serves us best.

 

I believe that Wright would agree with me and say that it is important to tie our actions with considerations of multiple perspectives, but I think he would also say that being able to see various perspectives during times of reflection is important.  Reading books that challenge your perspective, thinking about others from their point of view, and acknowledging that not every thinks like you is a big step toward laying a foundation that can support considerate actions.

Successful Growth

In the book Act Accordingly author Colin Wright dives into ideas surrounding confidence and surfaces with a unique definition of success.  His views on success leave materialistic desires behind, and escape the common trap of comparing ourselves to others.  The author writes:

     “Wining is a word that has a slightly different meaning for truly confident people.  Rather than it being a declaration of their superiority over others, it’s an acknowledgement that they’ve worked hard and improved upon a skill they’ve been cultivating.  It means they’re better at something than they used to be, and the only comparison drawn is between their present self and how they were before victory.
     In this way every race is against oneself.  Every exam, challenge faced, and successful sale is an indication of personal growth, not one’s place in society.”

My first thought when I came across this section from Wright is that confident people have a different way of defining success by looking at success as personal growth.  What is fantastic about this definition is that it puts success in our own hands, and makes success something that everyone can achieve.  We do not have to decide to the best in the world at any one thing, but if we focus on continually growing, learning, and improving in everything we do, we will have success.

The entire idea of success being our own personal growth is an idea that I find incredibly calming and reassuring.  Wright’s philosophy on success takes the pressure off of monetary gains and external comparisons to those around us and instead turns success into a more personal desire.  When we compare ourselves to others we become envious and frustrated by what others have or do.  It is difficult to see the differences in our backgrounds, and how those differences lead us to unique outcomes.  Some people may be in positions where they can practice more on certain skills to achieve our goals faster than us. Some people will have more money and be able to obtain more material items than we can, but neither of these examples truly shows another person to be more successful and more valuable than us.  We can only focus on our own goals and our own growth, and as long as we improve on something daily, we will be successful.  This requires a great deal of self awareness to be able to examine the time we have, how we spend that time, and just what it is that we want to grow toward.  Knowing where we are placing our time and effort will help us shape how we grow, and where our successes will be.

Becoming Less Wrong

Continuing his focus on confidence in the book Act Accordingly, Colin Wright states, “A Confident person doesn’t fear having been wrong: she’s just happy to be more right now than she was before.” This quote shows one of Wright’s core principles expressed in his books Act Accordingly and Considerations. He is continually focusing on adopting as many new perspectives as possible, and learning from new situations and discussions.  What his quote here is saying is that those who can be adaptive become more confident because they are not forced into belief systems at the expense of learning and growing.

 

I really enjoy focusing on perspectives because we each have a unique view of the world around us based on the information we take in, our backgrounds, ambitions, expectations, and other often hidden factors.  With so many forces impacting us and changing who we are, it is not surprising that we can all interpret an event, idea, or feeling differently.  What Wright argues is that we should seek out as many varying perspectives as possible so that we can understand others and begin to see things from multiple perspectives.  When we focus on finding various perspectives we avoid believing that there is one correct answer and we become less judgmental of others.

 

Wright’s quote above speaks to me about the discussions we may have on a daily basis related to heafty topics such as politics or religion.  In these two areas in particular people tend to become very entrenched and unchanging in their ideas. This limits them to a single perspective for which they seek out confirmation and agreement rather than differing perspectives and challenges.  A person without confidence will hide behind their idea and find excuses for why other perspectives are wrong.  More confident people will allow their idea to change because they understand that as they learn more and take in more information, their perspective will shift, and they will begin to see things with a better clarity.  Adopting a single mindset and ideology and not allowing it to change means that you are shutting out other perspectives and limiting your growth.  Opening up your ideology will allow you to connect with others and see the world in a better light.

Confidence and Self Awareness

Colin Wright’s book Act Accordingly is in some ways a collection of essays and ideas written by Wright that all focus around the idea of living a full life with the limited time we have on this planet.  The fifth chapter of his book centers on confidence, and he starts the chapter with the following quote, “Confidence means knowing the value of your knowledge, while maintaining awareness of how much you have left to learn.” What I love about this quote is the focus on continued learning and an ever growing knowledge base combined with a self awareness to focus on areas where our mind can still grow.

 

Wright continues to explain that knowledge will allow us to get to where we want to go by giving us the opportunity to participate in more areas and have greater input in the world.  One way in which greater knowledge translates into a more connected and engaged life is through confidence.  When we are confident we are able to more freely participate in discussions, activities, groups, and events because we have knowledge related to what it is we are participating in. We can better connect with others and provide more value to the world.  This confidence is brought on exclusively by knowledge and familiarity in the world, but it can lead to a downfall of hubris,

 

What Wright also advocates for is a strong sense of self awareness to be able to reflect on what we know well, and what we do not know.  For me I find myself discussing various topics, and often times the discussion will move in directions I am not familiar with. I will catch myself spreading information that I never truly understood, or even making up information based on assumptions and conclusions that I have drawn from other things that I have been told.  In this situation Wright would argue that it is best to move into a purely listening mode and avoid interjections made with a lack of confidence.  By recognizing these areas I can see where I can read and study to become more well rounded in my knowledge. This also helps prepare me for future conversations, building my confidence.