“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Have you ever given thought to the complexity of ideas?
It’s not enough to have just a good disposition towards life, although that certainly is the first step that must be taken at the beginning of an examined and philosophical life, adding to that you must also be intelligent in your approach.
Ray Dalio’s company, Bridgewater, thrives on what he calls an “Idea Meritocracy”. This means that the company will be led and decisions are taken based on the most accurate, beneficial and efficient ideas happening in the organization.
But for this idea meritocracy to happen, there must be, quite obviously, a clash of ideas to measure which idea holds best against reality. This there is going to be conflict, a lot of it. The word “conflict” has a bad connotation, it seems it is something to be avoided. But, in an idea meritocracy, it is something that must be sought. Conflict will shine a light on ideas.
Now, it’s not just arguing for the sake of arguing, it’s more complicated than that. Conflict will not work correctly if it’s just an Ego fight to give an example. If two people are arguing about supposedly something but in reality they are just establishing superiority, nothing will be achieved but a winner and a loser and someone seeking revenge afterward.
Truth is what we seek.
So, it’s also more complicated than just having a good disposition.
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
― Oscar Wilde,
Don’t you think we are used to avoiding conflict at all costs?
We fear it like the plague. This will not do if we are searching for the truth and to look at things in the face and know them for what they are as Marcus Aurelius quoted.
Whenever we stumble into conflict sometimes it’s easier to just give in to whatever point it is that is being argued, because sometimes, the point may be too small and insignificant to fight for. It may be something we are too lazy to clear out and so we just give in. This instances may not matter in the short term but put them all together and then you have a huge mess.
Assertiveness is simply defined as the courage to speak your mind and face the consequences. You very well might not be right, in all cases, you could be blatantly wrong. But if you don’t speak up about what you think is right, you will never arrive at the truth because the other person might be assertive when you are not, and vice-versa, but then again, how do you know he or she might be right? He is no different than you.
Truth and progress must be constant work and this requires courage, on both sides. It takes the courage to speak up for what you think is right, but it also takes the courage to admit that you are wrong, which is I’m sure you know, harder.
Conflict, when done right, should be seen as an opportunity, not as something to dread. It simply means that there is something that could be done in a better way or something that should be stopped immediately. Conflict, when well managed, is good.
“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
― Augustine of Hippo
A great complement to this read: Separation of tasks
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