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On “Thinking about” others

There’s this idea that’s taken hold recently in a lot of the entrepreneur literature that I read that suggests that we greatly overestimate our capacity for planning and strategizing, and that the individual who executes on a bad idea learns more and progresses farther than an individual that plans the “perfect” idea and never lets the world touch it. Essentially, we’re pretty terrible at knowing the unknown, and creating an elaborate conceptual framework on top of an unknown foundation means you’ve built an imaginary conceptual framework.

I think this is very healthy mindset to adopt; especially for me as I’m a serial schemer.

However, I think this concept is pretty applicable to other spheres of life, one in particular: social interaction. I’m sure we’ve all been told to “think about others” before we act.

What the hell does that mean?

“Think about how your mother will feel if you get that tattoo.”
“Think about how your friends will react if you wear those shoes.”
“Think about how hard Suzie will slap you when you tell her that dress makes her look like a tomato.”

And, every godawful busybody’s favorite: “THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!”

The “Think about” command instructs us to concoct an elaborate conceptual framework on top of what we know about the group/individual in question. The thing is, like an entrepreneur analyzing market conditions, we probably don’t know jack about people’s thoughts and needs, especially whn they’re strangers. And, even if we can suppose what they might feel, we don’t know what they can tolerate or appreciate.

The “Think first” mindset asks us to operate in a world of our own imagination.

So, while I’m not advocating YOLO. I am suggesting that next time we begin to call upon the conditioned reflex to “think about” how another person/group is going to feel when we go to interact, maybe we should just “ask about” how they feel and what they’ll tolerate instead. If we don’t we could be leaving a lot of authenticity currency on the table, so to speak, leaving both parties much poorer.