Cultivating the habit of being “unreasonable”

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

Some people are naturally “unreasonable”. They see things as they could be, not as they are. They are never satisfied. They feel a constant nagging annoyance with the world, always wanting things to be better. These are the born visionaries.

Others accept things as they are and move on with their life. These are the easygoing types, because they don’t live in that constant state of annoyance. Sounds nice, right? Sure, if you’re alright never being the “unreasonable” person which progress depends on.

I read some book at one point that talks about how all thoughts are just a set of filters. We all see the same world, but our brains apply different filters to it. Through that lens, some people have a big beefy “how can this be improved?” filter, and some people don’t.

So the question is: how can you build that filter? If you want to become a visionary, but you’re naturally a “reasonable” person, how can you cultivate the skill of being “unreasonable”?

Two options here:

Option 1: Don’t. Accept that you aren’t a visionary. Pursue a career path that matches your native genius more closely. This is the easy path, and there’s no shame in taking it. Choosing a career path which requires a missing talent that other people were born with is an uphill battle.

Option 2: Make it a habit. Your brain beefs up the filters that you use often. Here are some random suggestions:

  • Set alarms or reminders throughout the day that say “what could be improved about whatever you’re doing right now?”
  • Create a “stupid ideas” list and make a goal to add 10 stupid ideas to it every day. The stupider the better; you’re just looking to build the muscle.
  • At the end of every workday, ask yourself what annoyed you that day. Sometimes we don’t even notice the things that bother us until we think intentionally about it.

There’s hope for you, Mr. or Mrs. Reasonable.

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