A dear friend recently wrote about an experience that changed how he approached life. In his words (slightly edited to remove details about the experience) – “By most people’s objective accounts, I was doing the right things, being the right kind of person and living a ‘good life.’ But, let’s be real – most people don’t know sh*t.”
That is both funny and wise.
“Most people” do get things right. Crowd prediction markets have shown that the crowds do have wisdom. The crowd can answer certain kinds of questions very well. There are also many traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation for good reason.
However, there are a long list of things that “most people” don’t do well. They don’t read enough, don’t eat healthy enough, don’t push beyond their biases enough and don’t live their lives intentionally enough. They also regularly over estimate how bad things are, regularly report being unhappy and don’t respond to change well.
Common sense, sadly, is just not that common. So, it is worth examining our default settings to understand when we default to what the crowd says or does.
When it comes to building things we consider valuable, including our own lives, I’ve learnt that it is better to err on what we believe instead of defaulting to what others believe.