Daniel Melendez

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So what do I do with this?

Schulz aptly describes the feeling and fear of finding out you are wrong. Got that (but lack the t-shirt). However, no one I know is going to hire or value me for being wrong. Many of the examples in this conversation are not about being wrong per sé but finding out you can be right in a different context. If I were the astrophysicist/marathoner/CEO, I would want to view the sky within a specific framework in order to make progress (What is progress? - perhaps that is what the talk is fundamentally circumscribing). But at the end of it I am left wanting for knowing. Just because I share the facts in, say, Karl Marx Das Kapital does not turn me into a marxist. Value judgments and actions intervene. And my fear of being wrong is proportional to the value judgment that can be hurled at me. Society is full of those. So, I am left puzzled to make practical sense out of her interesting perspective.

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    Apr 21 2011: Hi Daniel,
    What I got out of the talk was that in order to live the very best life and make the greatest contribution we have to always be open to information that contradicts our intellectual positions and beliefs. It is only in being open to the possiblitiy that we could be wrong that we preserve the possibility of finding the truth.
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      Apr 21 2011: "It is only in being open to the possiblitiy that we could be wrong that we preserve the possibility of finding the truth."

      Wow, can I quote you?!
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        Apr 21 2011: Feel free but I am sure you have the same thoughts so no attribution necessary.
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      Apr 22 2011: Debra, as always, wise and eloquent..this could be the motto ..the standard for what we all aspire to here at TED..and indeed in all of our life conversations...I sometimes wonder why people come to TED when their comments always begin with "this is impossible...or this could never happen"..I hope everyone who has ever left such a comment here at TED somehow finds the way to this wisdom you have given us and begin to live and think in "possibility"
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        Apr 24 2011: You know Lindsay, even though none of us respond here for affirmation, I find that when it is spontaneously given as you just did, it is very meaningful to me. Thank you.
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      Apr 22 2011: Daniel this is excellent discussion you've started. And Debra your summary of this talk is just brilliant. It is powerful. It is connecting. It is very liberating. I would proudly quote you on this "In order to live the very best life and make the greatest contribution we have to always be open to information that contradicts our intellectual positions and beliefs." And with your comment you've reminded me of a passage in The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: “In the realm of power you must learn to judge your moves by their long-term effects on other people. The problem in trying to prove a point or gain a victory through argument is that in the end you can never be certain how it affects the people you’re arguing with: They may appear to agree with you politely, but inside they may resent you.”
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        Apr 24 2011: Hi Joe! Thanks for your kind words.Living with regard to the long term consequences of our actions is a challenging and yet rewarding way to live. For me it started as a teenager when I overheard thoughtless adults talking about someone's suicide. It dawned on me then that simple actions can impact others and you never really know if someone who is treated badly is teetering on the brink of an irreversible decision. While I think that in most instances we need to be very careful to speak our truths clearly and kindly so that we actually communicate and not alienate - there are other times when we need a very special type of courage that allows us with the same clarity and same kindness to speak hard truths to people who are in positions to make changes for the better. These situations are the ones where speaking up and speaking clearly save lives or builds better environments within companies or organizations . This takes courage because there are often real consequences that one must be willing to pay for this type of courageous stand. Resentment is sometimes the least of it.
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    Apr 21 2011: The point of this talk is to stay humble, open-minded, and be careful to differentiate between 'facts' and 'opinions'. I meet far too many people who cannot change their original belief or opinion in light of new facts. As Eckhart Tolle points out, most of our opinions are intertwined with our egos, and to be wrong (especially in an area of so-called expertise), in the unconscious eyes of the ego, is to run the risk of annihilation.

    What I wonderful talk, I can't wait to read her book.
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      May 9 2011: Jason..a critical point..that opinions are strongly conneceted to ego..whenever we hold and express strong opinions we are acting from ego..protecting and projecting ego and not living into our unimaginbaly limitless potential.
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    May 9 2011: Great question Daniel. To me I think Kathryn Schultz wants us to reacquire a sense of wonder in life that comes from no longer fearing being wrong about things. Instead we can see wrongness as a stance that allows us to learn and grow and no longer focus on the emotional pain that comes from a moment of realization that we're wrong. It seems to me to be less a practical point than a re-conceptualization that seeks to change people's approach to life. Very fitting because TED style overachievers seem to me to be the exact type of group where people's identity and self concept come from being the smartest in the room and right about things all the time.
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    Apr 26 2011: An idea from her talk that grabbed my attention was that somehow the fear of being wrong, the feeling to be more precise, could be upturned so as to not be uncomfortable with it. However, I suspect that dropping such fear is counter-evolutionary however much the ego is domesticated by it.
  • Apr 24 2011: I found this knowledge most helpful in relationships, especially with my Italian ex. She is not ignorant, nor stupid and it took this video to make me realize I always jumped to evil when she acted without compassion from my point of view. Point being that I now doubt in my ability to correctly assess her actions and that is making me look at a lot of things in a whole new light.
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      Apr 24 2011: Wow Max! I think you just passed the masters class in this discipline. When you can apply the general theories to your ex you have brought the understanding to your very heart. This is great work!
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    Apr 22 2011: Daniel, thanks for starting this conversation as Kathryn's idea is both utterly simple and very difficult to grasp precisely because so many of us, without realizing it, and there is the crux of it..not realizing it...are so wedded to our own knowledge and expertise that we become trapped in it..can't see over the wall we build, can't reach into possibility and therefore open ousleves to our real possibility. ( On this I am an expert..public advocates are prone to believing they are right and that any one who opposes them or doesn't sign up, is, as Kathryn says, ignorant, stupid or evil).I practice trying to shed the last deeply rooted tendency within me that I am always right because I am always moral and ethical..by noticing every time I have that "dead wrong" reaction to what is said. And now, thanks to Kathryn, I can imagine myself in that moment having walked off the cliff and still believing I am on solid ground.Every time we have that "dead wrong " reaction to someone else we are really acting from our "I'm always absolutely right" place and therefore living from a place that is smaller than our possibility. Thank you Kathryn and thank you again Daniel for giving us this opportunity to visit this wisdom together..
  • Apr 21 2011: I agree, I wonder just what I should do next. First of all I need to remember all the 'chinese park bench signs' I have faced. I certainly forget them as fast as possible, in my family there is a premium for being RIGHT! An important memory of a French film - a man acts throughout the entire 90- 120 minutes as if he is unquestionably correct. Near the end, he finds he has been largely wrong about most things - he really is the pompous fool others have made him out to be. His response is to lose all bodily control - he just falls over from the devistatation. I think I'd rather own up to my own mistakes before they are thrust on me!

    Now, back to what to do. I think I have to begin a new look at humility - that will be tough because I've spent my adult life proving my correctness. I've admired and praised those I thought were that way too. Maybe they were just playing by a set of invisible rules! There are so many things I would want to keep, and yet so many I must give up!
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      Apr 21 2011: Wow Will, good for you. 'I think I have to begin a new look at humility'. My father used to say 'never confuse meekness (in the biblical meaning which is more like humility) for weakness". The strongest man is the one who is also humble.
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    May 17 2011: Almost all human actions are based on creating a beneficial outcome for oneself; few people do anything that they know will be detrimental to their wellbeing. But sometimes, in spite of all our precautions, thiings don’t turn out as we planned. Have we made a mistake? No. We simply acted on the best information we had available at the time, information that, it turns out, was likely flawed or incomplete.

    To really deal with the issue of being right or wrong, we should view the human condition in a very broad context, that of the Cosmos: the more we learn about the Universe, the more aware we are that there is so much we have yet to learn (have you heard that cosmologists now believe that fully 96% of the Universe is composed of stuff that we can’t even directly perceive: dark matter and dark energy. The stuff that we’re all familiar with - you know, atoms, molecules, regular matter - makes up only 4% of what’s out there). So it’s no wonder that we are often incorrect in our assumptions about why things are the way they appear to be. As the noted British geneticist and evolutionary biologist, J.B.S. Haldane, famously stated: “The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose.” No human being, including ourselves, has ever possessed complete knowledge; therefore, it’s no surprise that we are often wrong about even those things that on the surface we would assume we could be most assured about.

    It may be that the sum of human knowledge is merely a fraction of all the knowledge that’s possible. If so, it’s the height of folly - and human ego - to assume that we are always right.

    So, if you wish to be right much more often than wrong, be totally honest all the time and, when appropriate, admit that you simply “don’t know.” Few others will argue with you.
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    Apr 24 2011: I think humility is the ability to allow others to be wrong.
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      Apr 24 2011: Hi Helen, I thought it was in admitting that you are wrong yourself.
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        Apr 24 2011: Hello Debra...........I really do like your posts they are so well thought out and on the mark.
        Indeed, you are absolutely right but also have to accept that it is no threat to youself to alllow
        another to be wrong if that is the case.................What happens if both people think they are right. ?
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          Apr 24 2011: Hi Helen, it is an important addition to the conversation that you are making. To realize that when others are wrong there is no threat to oneself is important because there are people who feel it is their mission in life to make others see the light. Thanks for taking the time to point that out for me. In the end people have the right to be absolutely wrong and haranging them to see things your way is not productive. Agreeing to disagree is a skill too.
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      Apr 25 2011: ahhh..an important and deep contribution.to this "talk back" on Kathryn's film.to allow the differences betreen us..just "greet" the "wrong" ideas of others without trying to "correct" them...When others are the kind of "wrong" that pushes buttons in us..there is often an important message there..for us..and without both parts..being present to when we are "wrong"..being present to when others are "wrong.".it is so much harder to rise out of the limiting polemics of right-wrong .
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    Apr 23 2011: Great dialogue going....
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    Apr 22 2011: I Think we have to Listen more than we talk,and we have to always give chance to other ideas to enter our minds,we have to open the window to see the light outside not only to let the light enter the room,Its Better to change our mind at the last moment than to continue in our path while we are not certain if we are Right or Wrong.
  • Apr 21 2011: I was talking with a friend some time ago. I was certain of my position on some matter - but he counciled me by saying, "perhaps you should try to listen to ALL of their story". Now I can put his idea and this one to use.