Friday, October 16, 2015

Trevi Trevor Trevwe

Yesterday, a Twitter friend responded to a tweet of mine....

Neo Mage:
T, you shouldn't be afraid to use the word 'I' more often... because for example, I don't share your opinion on this, 'We have an aversion to free stuff making people lazy, but what if free stuff is to cities, as search is to Google : Walks and Water'. Unless of course you are trying to brainwash us, in which case carry right on... My objection is that it implies a homogeneity/universality of experience which I personally feel does not in general exist. In your defence, Bantu-language speakers traditionally use 'we' as opposed to 'I' as a mark of humility and unity.

Which Trev's View?


I had a colleague at a previous company who was particularly eloquent. He also sounded ridiculously confident in the way he spoke. When I try understand a business, a cloud of misty confuzzeldness descends on me. Most times I think 'the market has got the price wrong', I dig a little deeper and seem to come to conclusions that poke several holes in my confidence. How could he be so confident? I went back and read some of his earlier reports as a young analyst expecting more tentativeness. Expecting that confidence would come with experience. Nope. His early reports were also confident. 

The reports were short. They made statements that were the justification for investing peoples money or not. If you weren't confident, you shouldn't be making them. Yet, you could spend page after page, book after book, year after year, career after career, explaining all the caveats. Explaining that even when deciding a particular business is a good business to buy, you will be doing fantastically well in the long term if you are right 60% of the time (and not horribly wrong the rest of the time). Explaining the caveats is important, but as an exercise in understanding the philosophy. You never get rid of risk, you just manage it.

Writing gets incredibly clumsy if you keep putting in all the excuses and escape hatches. I prefer the idea of getting comfortable with making errors in public. One of my favourite quotes comes from Karl Popper who said:

'These are men with bold ideas, but highly critical of their own ideas: they try to find if their ideas are right by trying to find if they are not perhaps wrong. They work with bold conjectures and severe attempts at refuting their own conjectures.'

So that explains why I am comfortable with saying things that I will then criticise, rather than things that give me wiggle room. I am often wrong. Everyone is often wrong. That we are afraid to make mistakes in public contributes to people staying 'Private till they Plonk' and then being worried about changing their views.

The main point Neo Mage was making was on the 'I vs We'

The main reason I often talk about 'we' is that I think we are more interesting than me. A lot of time gets spent in looking for happiness in finding yourself. I think that is a distraction. Stating views, beliefs and tastes is fairly irrelevant compared to what 'we' think, feel and do. To use a specific example, I have had a few attempts at Vegetarianism or Reduced Meat Diets. The arguments are compelling, but in truth, I struggle. Meat is a huge part of our cultural identity, celebrations and way of life. Producing and eating meat is deeply woven into most of my relationships. 

Whether or not I eat it or not is almost irrelevant. That we decrease our consumption of meat is very, very, relevant. I have shifted my struggle to trying to learn to cook a few more tasty, veggie meals, that taste as good or better than meat meals. If the people I am connected to start adding progressively more meat free meals to their diet, that would be a big win. Importantly to me, I am still on their side. I value being on everybody's side.

The problem with expressing things as I is it is divisive. Stating your view turns things into a debate. I prefer the idea of taking on the views of all of us. Even our crazies. It is too easy to distance ourselves from our crazies, and just get on with our lives. There is only one tribe in my view.

But experience is deeply personal

Yes. The biggest flaw in my approach, and the reason I do try and write some 'I' stuff as a balance is that my experience, the stuff I can write of, is specifically mine. Even the connections which I share with other people, are from my perspective. It is almost impossible to release your perspective. When I met up with a cousin in Newtown, Sydney, she encouraged me to write more 'I' stuff. She mentioned that empathy isn't just seeing things from other people's perspective, it is also allowing them to see from their own perspective. You don't have to understand. You just have to listen and provide space.

I get it. And I do think authenticity is important. I am also an extrovert (mostly), and willing to share my own views. But where I get really curious is about the experiences of others. I am trying to create a platform to discuss stuff that matters to us. While I enjoy sharing, I don't want this to be a blog about my views or about me. I am much more interested in being a catalyst for us to talk about the stuff that really matters.

We matters more than I. 

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