Among other traits, I work hard to be confident in what I believe but also open to new ideas. It can be a weird balance.
There are many reasons why you should show confidence, and it can help inspire trust from others. However, it can quickly turn sour if applied incorrectly. Charlie Munger made it a point to avoid people who were overly confident, and Ryan Holiday says that it can become our most dangerous vice.
That seems to make openness the superior trait, right? After all, being free to change your mind can increase your knowledge, and it’s really the best way you could respond to learning something new.
On a recent episode of the 2Bobs podcast, David C. Baker brought this apparent contradiction to light. Their show often talks about showing expertise in the pursuit of sales, and confidence is a huge part of that. If you’re not confident in what you do, it’ll be harder to get people to pay for your skills. He shares:
“Your clients hire you because you’re confident, you’re an expert in something, but that can go against this notion of continuous learning. You have to bring this really unique mix of confidence, but openness to something different.”
It’s a fine line to balance. I want to be as strong as possible in my beliefs while also being open to new ideas. As Gary Vaynerchuk has said before, conviction doesn’t require a closed mind.
For me, I find the best solution to often be creating steel man arguments. If I believe in something, I want to dig in deep and fight for the other side. If I do, one of two things will happen:
- I learn more about why I was right.
- I discover why I was wrong.
Both are great outcomes! In the “confidence vs openness” arena I tend to lean a bit too far to the openness side, but we all should work to find ourselves somewhere in that middle area between them.