Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. – George Bernard Shaw
What does that mean?
This quote is about the one certain thing in life; change. Change will happen. The question is will you allow your mind to change as the new facts are revealed?
To move beyond where you are requires change. Progress is what we call that motion when it is in a desired direction (or at least desired to the person calling it progress).
That requires us to be willing to change our minds when the errors in our thoughts are pointed out to us. If we are unwilling to change our minds, there is nothing which can be done for us, right?
This quote is about examining the facts, and changing our opinions when the facts no longer support our prior thoughts or beliefs.
Why is considering the facts important?
The people who believed in a flat Earth, or the Sun revolving around the Earth eventually changed their minds. Or they didn’t. But those that didn’t eventually died out, and now neither the flatness of the Earth nor what is at the center of the Solar System is in any dispute.
Humanity has believed all sorts of things in the past. But change, and eventually progress, have slowly been working at straightening out these misconceptions. When we consider the latest facts, we have to consider what changes we need to make to our beliefs and lives.
Many of us believed at one point in our young lives that we could fly. Whether it was with a cape or a bed-sheet, we believed we could make it happen. Eventually, after considering the facts, we changed our minds about our ability to fly. And that was progress, right?
But if we refuse to consider new facts as they are uncovered and verified, how will we ever be able to change our minds? If we refuse to change our minds, how will we ever be able to progress beyond our misconceptions? Change is the nature of the Universe. Adapt or be left behind.
Where can I apply this in my life?
When I was a child, the big scare of Climate Change was about Global Cooling, and where we would place all the Canadians fleeing the encroaching ice sheets. People changed their minds as the cooling trend changed. Then it got warmer, and people changed their minds and it was Global Warming.
The latest data says temperatures have been stable, and so it appears it is time for us to change our minds once again. At least that is what the facts seem to show, and what would appear to be a reasonable conclusion. But for some, they won’t be able to change their minds.
Imagine how difficult it would be to make progress in your life if you believed something untrue, and refused to let go of that thought. If someone believed they were ugly and no one could possibly love them, how would they react when someone expressed interest in them?
Until that person is able to change their mind, how will they be able to make any progress regarding their self-image, and their ability to feel loved? How long will they feel this way? Until they can reconsider the facts and change their mind. For some, that takes a very long time indeed.
To me, that is the real point of the quote. We know so many things which simply are not true. Yet we defend them because we believe them to be true. Even when they are not. I used to believe I was a lousy writer. Now I know better. I’ve upgraded myself to somewhere between tedious and mediocre. 8)
Where in your life have you believed one thing, but been told something else? Do you think you sing poorly, but have been told you are pretty good at singing? Perhaps you don’t think much of your ability to speak or write, but have been encouraged by others to do more?
The first thing is to consider the source. It’s easy to dismiss the encouragement of a close relative or friend. They want you to feel good about yourself, so they might be stretching the truth a little. But what if they are not? Have you considered that possibility?
Next consider the expertise of the person giving you the facts. Are they knowledgeable? Is someone who sings worse than you saying you are great? Is that just because you sing better than they do? Or do they know something you have yet to realize?
We understand that things change. What we may not be willing to consider is that we are changing as well. The only question is if the change will lead to progress or not. If we can consider the facts as we become aware of them, we can change for the better.
If we cannot (or will not) change our minds, then and only then are we well and truly stuck.
- Progress is NOT impossible if you put your mind to it (makeyourmarkonlife.com)
- Many questioning that I’m having about myself (alonerinlife.wordpress.com)
- Leadership Minute: Can You Change? (dougdickerson.wordpress.com)
- Change (jackrwhcc.wordpress.com)