Read Less – Know More – Think Better

Paul Hebert Communication, Learning and Development, Paul Hebert, Seat at the Table, The FOT Soap Box

I have over 300 feeds in my Feedly reader (FYI—I still hold a grudge against Google for dropping Google reader). And I disagree with almost everything written on each of them (except this one, of course).

In fact… I am unhappy, depressed, angry and in some cases—stupid (or more stupid)—for quite a while after I read through my feed. (You wouldn’t like me after I read my feed).

The more rational among you would say…

“Paul—stop it. Stop reading all that stuff. Find a few blogs that make you happy and read them. Find a few authors that you agree with and cozy up to their lilting prose. Bath in the feeling of finding a kindred soul. Let yourself be at peace—enjoy your day.”

And there are many days I would agree with you.

But then I remember the old saw…

If everyone in the room agrees with you—you don’t need those people in the room.

And it is so true. And there is a name for it…

Hello Confirmation Bias—My Old Friend

Too often we (that’s me AND you) find comfort in the ideas, opinions and points of view that support what we already believe. We actually ignore evidence that competes with our views and jump over it in order to find evidence that supports our thinking. We like to hang with people (read bloggers, authors, etc.) who think like us. We like the head nods and the affirmation. It’s called the confirmation bias.

You agree with me, don’t you? Of course you do… that’s why you read FOT (see what I did there… )

But I’m going to ask you to not do that anymore. I’m not asking you to drop FOT from your reading list—that would be just silly. But I am going to ask you to read less… but ultimately know more.

I’m asking you to pare down your reading list. Create a small group of “friends and family” blogs—people you like and agree with. People you need to be able to say “Of course I read your post the other day.” But then, create a larger group of sources from people you think are idiots (that would be the list I’m probably on)—people you NEVER agree with.

That list should be your first stop each day.

The more you read from people you don’t agree with, the better you will be at your job, as a conversationalist (no one likes a one trick pony, booooring); heck… the better you will be as a human being.

I see it too often—people like to stay comfortable—and look for validation of their ideas instead of looking for opposition. Experiencing more opposing viewpoints provides you with context and information, allowing you to make better decisions each day.

You can learn more arguing a point of view than you can simply nodding in agreement.

I challenge each of you to go to your feed reader after you read this post… eliminate all but a few blogs that you consistently find yourself agreeing with when you read them. You don’t need those blogs… they are simply echoes of your own thinking and don’t add any value.

Now—find the blogs you vehemently disagree with and add them to your list of “must reads.” Read them regularly.

The space between your ears and those blogs is where learning will occur. That is where real value is added.

Of course, if you agree with me, this may be the last time we chat, so to makes sure you come back…

  • Evolution is just a theory…
  • Aliens did visit the earth in the past…
  • HR already has a seat at the table…
  • And Han shot first.