Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
– George Bernard Shaw
I came across this quote in the daily The World in Brief email I get from The Economist. I appreciated the reminder.
Politicians have given changing your mind a bad reputation. The moment a political opponent changes their mind, they are accused of doing a u-turn. Even if their new position is preferable, the fact they had to change to reach that position is, apparently, damning enough.
Not that I am suggesting all political mind changing should be celebrated. Plenty of changing of mind takes place for dishonourable and, well, political reasons. So I understand the scepticism towards political mind changing.
That said, though, the rest of us should not be discouraged from changing our minds! It is not a sign of weakness; it’s an indicator of strength. We will never move forward if we remain entrenched to all our previous views, perspectives, and beliefs.
There is no honour into staunchly holding onto a position if nothing but pride is blinding us from holding a better position. We are all susceptible to getting defensive about the ideas we have. It’s natural. But the best people are champions of the best ideas, viewpoints, and perspectives, regardless of where they originate.
As Shaw says, we won’t change the world by dogmatically holding onto every opinion we currently hold.
Not only must we embrace change when our existing standpoint is undermined, we must seek it out. We must pursue other people’s stances. We should remain open when the facts don’t align with what we envisioned. We have to hold things not within a clenched fist, but in an open hand.
And we must never forget that change is good. Not only good, it’s essential. Without change, there can rarely be progress. And that all starts with not being afraid to have our minds changed.