Both are excellent pieces of advice. They also are encouraging totally opposite behaviors.
There are some that need to have a clear and single answer. They like to see issues in black and whiteâ€”which is how most media portrays things, given the selling properties of polarization and conflict. They may be averse to the necessity of having to think, to become informed or to have to use their judgment. It always should be one side…or the other.
Though the â€œanswerâ€ is that sometimes itâ€™s one. Sometimes itâ€™s the other. It depends.
However many are unwilling, uninterestedâ€”whateverâ€”to either think some things through deeply, personally, or they may not feel comfortable being individually accountable for their decisions and actions. So rather than make up their own mind, they select a prefabricated off-the-rack package of attitudes and beliefs. Those packages carry a number of different labels, often the name of a religion, political partyâ€”or perhaps a broad blanket label (Conservative, Liberal), or a subset or sub-sect of any of the aforementioned.
These packages have the benefit of being brandedâ€”and that may convey whatever specialness or relative perceived status brands convey. Or the brands appeal may just be the comfort of being part of the team, the confidence that many others agree with this version of reality. Hey, if you can feel validated, differentiated and superior because you drink Miller Vs Budweiser, marketingâ€™s ability to differentiate the almost undifferentiate-able clearly is compelling and effective with most humankind.
But it also must be acknowledged that most everybody is willing to think deeply, personally, passionately about some things. They can spend significant time analyzing information, parsing commentary, making and defending their own decisions. They may delight in judging the behavior of their friends or a celebrity. Or the quality of a meal or recipe. The relative merit of cars. Perhaps itâ€™s their football team, or baseball, or hockey. The nuances can be the focus of endless hours of conversation: the coaching, the players, the commissioner, the rules, with statistics and actions lovingly referenced, often going back decades. Whatever.
Even someone with a clear black and white need for clarity in some areas can, without any trouble, have the ability to see infinite shades of gray in another.
So in many areasâ€”often rather important ones (such as oneâ€™s immortal soul), we take an off-the-shelf externally validated and branded package, often without much examination.
But in other areas (such as oneâ€™s sports team), we may be passionately individual, personally involved and accountable, not trusting anyone elseâ€™s opinion about something so important as who might make the playoffs.
But also (usually) not damning to hell for all eternity anyone that does not agree with our beliefs in this area….
And we are all like that, accepting some things wholesale, others with far more skepticism and personal involvement. Tolerant of differences…or intolerant.
What things do you â€œwearâ€ off-the-rack? And what do you design yourself? Or do you agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald that: â€œThe test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.â€ and perhaps are able to move forward, sticking to your vision, but…making the best of it if circumstances indicate that an intransigent, uncompromising stance is not working.