Care Not What the Neighbors Think
What are the facts? Again and again and again-what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history”–what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
Robert A. Heinlein
This one always seemed like remarkably good advice until just last week. I’ll explain last week in a minute.
First, I want to consider this opinion at face value. It was pretty good advice when it first was published (in 1973), but it makes even more sense now, when information, data and opinions have exploded all over us, especially via the Internet. You can get swamped very quickly with the information tsunami and it makes sense to delve for just the facts as a way of figuring out what to do.
This is even more relevant in 2020, with the recession, race riots and the pandemic.
But sooner or later, you’ll have all the facts you can get, or care to gather…and then you have to make a decision. Sometimes your decision is easy. Sometimes, it’s not that obvious, and you have to make a decision using logic and intuition.
I have a book; The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind, by Richard Wiseman. It’s a fascinating book, but more specifically, he spends a lot of time exploring and discussing “intuition” and lucky guesses. When people “go with their gut,” most of the time, what they are doing is drawing upon subconscious information, facts, snippets of data that they’ve absorbed for weeks or years ahead of their moment of gut instinct. It’s all processed in one gestalt moment, letting them arrive at a decision that feels mysteriously “right” — because it is!
Wiseman talks about ways to improve your intuition and listen to your gut more successfully, and among the tips and suggestions is one to slow down, and relax. Also, take your time with your decisions. When you’re uptight, you can’t recall or process the information you need to make a good choice.
When you take time, on the other hand, you’re giving your mind a chance to collate everything you have ever seen or heard about the topic, thus leading you to a better decision, even while you’re completely unaware of the calculating going on subconsciously.
In other words: Give yourself time to gather the facts.
Guess Heinlein was right, even when you’re doing exactly the opposite of what he suggests.