Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Strong Opinions, Strongly Held

I really like smart, polite people who mean well. I've heard the phrase from a number of smart polite people that they believe in the phrase, "strong views (or opinions), weakly held." 

When I first heard that I nodded in agreement and considered its wisdom. It implies a willingness to cooperate, to not be blinded by your own beliefs to the detriment of progress. 

And I'm sure it works in certain groups---collaborators working on improving the status quo--in certain situations. And yet it can sound like "yeah I have a strong opinion about this, but I don't really care that much about the outcome." 

There's another group of people--a smaller group, I'd bet. These people have strong opinions, strongly held. 

Steve Jobs didn't hold his strong opinions weakly. Nor did MLK. Nor did Sara Blakely, the now-billionaire founder of Spanx. Nor did John Lennon, or Basquiat, or Miles Davis. 

Weakly held opinions lead to weak outcomes, the muzak of outcomes. I don't see the use of having a strong opinion about something but saying "meh." 

How does that serve society, or companies, or movements? We need strong opinions, strongly held to change the world to the better. We don't need to lower the bar to the acceptable outcome that weakly held opinions lead to. 

Be opinionated. Stick with it. And yes, be right, be informed, know your stuff, but don't give in just because it feels good to the group. Leaders have a tough job, and holding strong, well-informed opinions makes that job a bit easier. 

It's also the only thing that's moved us forward: tenacious, visionary people with very strong opinions about their part of this world. 

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