Two Sides and a Third Way
Democrat. Republican. Conservative. Liberal. Chocolate. Vanilla. If you’re thinking “what's he for?”, “what's he against?”, “is he on my team?”, hi. I’m writing to you. I think of myself as a team of one. A new person every day. Mostly the same. But the opportunity is there. My mindset changes (a little) every day. I don’t back myself into a corner with one label for what I believe. I don’t believe that I must cling to my beliefs because they’re my beliefs. I don’t believe I’m weak to change, wrong to change, too right to change. Feel free to convince me otherwise. I will listen. I leave my mind open to change. I seek out other perspective’s because I know I’m not omnipotent. I’m wrong. I’m wrong a lot. I learn. I change. I fail too. I fail to listen. I fail to change. But it’s not from lack of effort. It’s not starting with the wrong mindset. It’s because this mindset is hard. Change is hard. Admitting you were wrong is hard. "Good.” My mind says, "It’s time to get after it anyway.” Your choice now.
How do I practice The Third Way?
- Watch the other news channel.
- Listen to the other podcast.
- Read a book from the other side.
- Have a conversation with someone different.
- In person. The bandwidth of the communication channel matters.
- Social media doesn’t work. Texts don’t work. A virtual call doesn’t work.
- When you’re doing something hard, emotional, nuanced you want the highest bandwidth channel.
- In person works (best).
- Practice steelmanning
- Find the best version of someone’s argument to listen better or strengthen your argument.
- Even practicing strengthening your argument might stumble into deep learning once in a while.
Questions to ask yourself
- What do they value more than me, less than me?
- What might they be right about? Partially?
- What ideas might help in some way?
- Why, why, why?
Why to always ask why
- ALWAYS keep asking yourself “why?”
- Don’t stop until you have a good answer that the person communicating to you would accept.
- Test it out. Explain it back to them. Ask if your explanation accurately reflects their perspective.
You don’t have to feel bad to change, to be wrong, to listen. We’re all kids in adult bodies. We still don’t know everything. We never will. We don’t all have the same experience. W e don’t all have the same genetics, environments, or values. And praise whatever you praise for that. Because I only get to live one life. But I get to live yours a little too when I listen to you. It’s the fastest way to upgrade my mind. You lived it. What took you hours, days, years to learn can take me minutes. If I listen to you. Walk a moment in different shoes.
Find a Role Model
I learned this from my mom. She walked marathons in our shoes. So it’s easier for me. I had a good role model. If you don’t have one, find one.
Who’s the most open-minded person you know?
- Start there.
- Watch how they act.
- How they listen.
- And mimic them.
- Do it so well that one day they look at you and think,
- “Wow I’m using you as my role model.”
Have you seen someone “listen” when they’re just going through the motions of acting like they’re listening but not listening at all? Thinking of what to say, how to respond, how you're wrong. We’ve all done it. Guilty.
Now when I think of the word “listen” I only think of it one way. Binary. ON. OFF. I’m listening with clear eyes, full heart, open mind, ready to learn. I CAN'T LOSE. Can you?'