Setting a Collision Course

“Let’s start with a test: do you have any opinions that you would be reluctant to express in front of a group of your peers? If the answer is no, you might want to stop and think about that. If everything you believe is something you’re supposed to believe, could that possibly be a coincidence? Odds are it isn’t. Odds are you just think whatever you’re told.” Paul Graham, Hackers and Painters

“Ah, you’re trying to refute me by quoting things I’ve said or written myself. That’s confronting me with documents that have already been sealed. You can reserve that for people who only argue according to fixed rules. But I live from one day to the next! If something strikes me as probable, I say it; and that is how, unlike everyone else, I remain a free agent.” Cicero, Discussions at Tusculum

One of the most humbling things in the world is to see great thinkers struggling towards an understanding – Godin, story and organizational innovation; Gladwell, the evolution of genius; Greene, strategy and self-control; Lewis, what makes someone the best. You can see if everything they write, the circling of the drain or the stacking of the bricks, how they’re methodically closing the gap between what they sense and what they know.

When you stop looking at issues as right or wrong and more like problems to be wrestled with, you conveniently end up with an amalgam with opinions satisfactorily qualified to upset everyone. If, like Cicero, you’re engaged in an endlessly race to seal, discard, adopt, seal, discard as many ideas as possible maybe you’ll end up right where Graham thinks you should. A place where the only plausible explanation for being there is that you made your own way.

And if innovation comes at the crossroads where ideas intersect, then you should be embarking and subsequently colliding as many different paths as possible. I think that’s correct. I’m trying to pick up a book here and crash into a television show I’m watching over there. Or something my Dad told me and some different thing that I’ve seen Tucker do. An implication and somebody else’s actions.

I can only say what’s working for me but for the first time, I’m starting to come up with my ‘own’ ideas.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.