My lovely sister-in-law gave me the book What Have You Changed Your Mind About? It is a fascinating collection of the best modern brains and what beliefs they have changed over the years. The topics discussed are vast from citizenship to mathematics and from evolution to friendship but all explore changes to their deep seated beliefs. For example, Roger C. Shank use to profess in the 1970’s and 80’s that there would be Artificial Intelligence (AI) as intelligent as humans within his lifetime. But in his interesting essay, he explains how he has reconsidered this notion. Computers were designed by rules and methodical thought where humans do not know why they do things they do. “We reason nonconsciously and explain rationally later.” Therefore AI will not be able to mirror man until machines can make gut-level intuitive decisions. I love the underlying concept of the book that everyone is still growing, changing, and adapting. It reminds me of the old saying promoting change and adaptation, “the flexible willow tree bends in the wind but the hard oak tree breaks in harsh winds.” So after reading through a few articles, I asked myself what have I changed my mind about?
Thinking back, I was always focusing on being first or the top dog. I wanted to be first chair in orchestra. Straight A’s were a necessity. At my job, I always wanted to move toward the top rung. I had a belief that to excel meant becoming first; that success was based on achieving great heights. And throughout my life I have reached some impressive heights. I was the first student at my college to direct a main stage production. I was one of three accepted into UCLA graduate theatrical directing program. I produced and directed a world premier play in Los Angeles. Even though these were major milestones in my life and could be seen as the top of the field, the successes were hollow. I began to discover that the position did not make me successful. It was not the HEIGHT but the DEPTH. The Depth of knowledge, the depth of passion, and the depth it touched others. It was not an elevated position, but an elevated joy for the position that brought success and happiness. Sometimes the smaller things, the almost insignificant things, were really the most rewarding for me, and impactful for others. Years after college, a friend told me that the support I gave him to try out for a play (an event I forgot) lead to the confidence to pursue his professional acting career. Daily clients tell me the small aha’s I provide them in session make major changes to their lives. And I have often found great joy in being second (or forty-fifth) in command. My view has changed from pursuing happiness in advancement to finding happiness in deeply exploring everything little thing I do.
What have you changed your mind about? What did you use to profess and live by that you now believe the opposite? What are the cold, hard facts that now appear to have holes in them? Share with us what you have learned so that we can learn and grow too.