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jason fried

Jeff Bezos: The Smart People Change Their Minds

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Amazon.com Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos stopped by the 37signals office yesterday and offered some wise thoughts about strategy. His views are especially refreshing in a time when people who change their views often get portrayed as weak and lacking confidence.

37signals Founder Jason Fried shared what Bezos said in a blog post he published this morning. After talking for 90-minutes about product strategy, Bezos impressed Fried with his observations about people who are “right a lot.”

The people who are right a lot often change their minds. Bezos said he doesn’t think consistency of thought as a particularly positive trait. It’s better, even healthier in fact, to have an idea that contradicts one you had before.

The smart people constantly revise their understandings of a matter. They reconsider problems they thought they had solved. They are open to new points of view, new information, and challenges to their own ways of thinking.

Is he saying you should not have a well-formed point of view? Of course not – instead think of your thoughts as temporary ones, flexible to change. You may be only partly right one moment and partly wrong another. But in all, you are there to think. And thinkers go through constant introspection, open to other views.

The ones who are wrong — well, they too often get lost in the details that just support one point of view, Bezos said.

Fried:

If someone can’t climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they’re often wrong most of the time.

Amen, brother. Amen.