False dichotomy. Falsas dicotomías.

False dichotomies

“The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care”.

What do you choose?

This is a quote I love from Hugh MacLeod, creative artist and founder of a company called Gapingvoid and aimed, in their words, “to make work more meaningful; helping people love what they do”. The reason I love it is that it makes me think about many false dichotomies we encounter very often in our lives and in which we get trapped.

In this story we are compelled to choose between being (or behaving like) a sheep or being a wolf like there were no other choices. We can be the followers (with little expectations) or the leaders (in the lonely place where power sits).

We need to choose. Or not?

The world suddenly is pictured in black and white. We are being offered an oversimplification that gives a limited number of options when in reality more options are available.

And the truth is we love it because, as Kahneman said in his book “Thinking fast, thinking slow”, we would take the easier route of thinking fast than engage in reflective thinking.

Let me give you some examples.

  • Either you are a liberal or you are not.
  • You are either with us or against us.
  • We need to save the environment or save jobs.
  • You either want to raise a family or to make a career.
  • If it can’t be perfect, it is not worthy.

How about these? But I bet you can find many others false dichotomies in your personal or work experience.

Think: when was the last time you quickly judged something as good or bad, success or failure?

This is called the “all or nothing” thinking, and it refers to the tendency that people have to speak or think in extremes delivering a false or inaccurate view of the surrounding situation. But what is more important is that this type of binary thinking takes away our capacity to find any alternatives to a problem or think critically about a situation. In summary, we can’t perform well.

We are living in a very complex world (more complex with the days) and things happen that cannot be placed in a box or another.

We need to become in-the-grey thinkers.

Thinking in the grey needs you to slow down your decision-making process. Instead of jumping into a conclusion and categorize splitting the world, you can choose not to form an opinion until you’ve heard the relevant facts and arguments. But this, of course, requires a considerable amount of energy. And it takes practice.

From my point of view, the first step to be able to develop this kind of thinking in the grey is to be detached from our thoughts and, of course, be willing to challenge them. When you consciously do this, you will be open up to people, thoughts and mindsets.

As a result, your creative capacity, problem-solving thinking and perspective will be enhanced.

Take a chance and tell me if it’s worthy.