Man raising his eyebrow. ? 2008 Lee J Haywood. Via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

You Change Your Mind – And That’s Not Normal

E. Forrest Christian Overachievers, Underachievers 1 Comment

If you’re old enough to bother reading this, you likely can look over your life and see the points at which you have changed your mind. Or finessed one of your pet theories of life. To you this seems like a normal process, one that comes with aging and growing.

It’s not.

You’re weird.

And it makes people see you as wishy-washy or “compromising”. More after the jump.

Sprial flourescent lightbulb. Public domain.

The problem is one of “trajectory”; that is, how steep your growth curve in “complexity of information processing”. Or work levels. You have been ramming through these different levels with regularity. When you hit some transition points, your mind itself seems to undergo a transformation. I’m not really sure what happens but almost everyone talks about going from, say, Level 5 to Level 6 as losing your mind.

A megachurch pastor once described it to me as “It’s like my faith has been destroyed. But my relationship with Christ has never been stronger!” It’s similar in other contexts. It feels like you’ve lost something in the gaining.

Often, these meta-transitions (transitions that seem to include more than just the move from one level to another) result in you seeing the world differently. More nuanced. This is especially true moving from level 3 to level 4, going from managing an operation process to managing the externalities affecting the process. Things aren’t as cut and dried as they used to be. Or perhaps for the first time you see that this or that really is black and white.

The problem with that is that most people don’t go through that. They pretty much hit a belief system in their early twenties and keep with it the rest of their lives, regardless of the changing circumstances. Now, some of that is a result of them being in the same job for a long time, something Hidden High Potentials like y’all don’t experience. But some of it is also due to not having made these transitions. They may make one “meta-transition” but no more. You might make three or more.

The Normals therefore expect you to be consistent over your lifetime. They don’t expect you to change your mind. They get frustrated when you do because they can’t figure out which one is the Real You.

Figures in history have this problem, as long as we can get access to their writings over their lifetime. Thomas Jefferson shifted his position on many things over his life. John Calvin is pretty consistent but there are still big differences in the different editions he put out, ones that matter to the Calvinisty types. Lenin shifted on several matters, although he’s still a monster.

Consistency really is the hobgoblin of small minds. Your larger one makes people nervous. It’s best to keep your mouth shut about your new beliefs until you have faded these relationships a good bit.

Which brings us back to the worst part of being a hidden high potential: you’re always leaving people behind as you grow.

Image Credit: Self-portrait. © 2008 Lee J Haywood. Via Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

About the Author

Forrest Christian

Twitter Google+

E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

Comments 1

  1. That’s “a foolish consistency”–and I think that Emerson was correct in making that distinction.

Tell Forrest how wrong he is: