Why Disagreement Is the Only Way We Move Forward

In Mental Toughness
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I really don’t want to argue about this though, so I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

I was in a 3-way text conversation. 

This text group included Mike, who’d started the conversation by openly asking about some current news event. 

There was me, who’d been the first to add my opinion when Mike posed the question. 

The third participant, who we’ll call Lou, offered the second opinion — what would be the final word in the conversation, as Lou had also added that quote from the beginning of this post to his statement. 

What Lou did is what I call pleading no contest.

Others may call it comment and run

Some would even say it’s cowardly. 

What I’m referring to: when someone makes a statement of opinion, then quickly preempts any other (possibly dissenting) opinions from being fired back at them by saying something like, “I don’t want to argue about this,” effectively (trying to) ending the conversation having gotten the last word. 

One day this year, I approached a man about a small difference of opinion between himself and me. It was just a conversation; I had no intentions of things escalating any further, and they did not escalate. 

However, this man, clearly not used to anything that even hinted at conflict, accused me of “trying to fight” him when I persisted in demanding answers on the topic of conversation. 

These are just two examples of something I see all the time, and I’m seeing it more often as we become more digitally connected: people who are viscerally uncomfortable with any form of dissent.  

It was Rodney King, the Los Angeles man who was famously beaten by a mob of police in 1991, who asked the open question, “Can we all get along?” 

NO, Rodney. We can’t all get along. Not all the time. 

And we shouldn’t try to. 

People not getting along is how we get fresh new ideas instead of bland slight improvements. Steve Jobs decided that a slightly better MP3 player wasn’t what we needed; instead of 250 or 500 songs, we needed to have ALL our music in our pockets. The result was theiPod. 

Argument is how lousy ideas get discarded and the better ideas get executed. Jim Collins, in his book Good To Great, explained that this is what the top people in all great companies do: slug it out over ideas, no one taking the debates personally, because the goal is to settle in what’s best for the company — not to satisfy anyone’s ego. 

Dissent is why “good enough” gets remade into legendary. Michael Jordan had a terrible stomach flu the day of Game 5 in the 1997 NBA Finals. The morning of the game, Mike had already won 4 NBA championships and could have sat out the game; the Bulls’ worse-case would be losing that game and being down 3-2 heading into Game 6 against the Utah Jazz. Jordan decided that good enough wasn’t enough. He played in Game 5, and if you follow sports, you know what happened next. (If you don’t, YouTube “Michael Jordan Flu Game” and watch.) 

The disagreeable person who refuses to go along with the program is usually the one who brings about (or at least initiates) change. Almost every generationally famous political leader (Napoleon, Alexander, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Mao Tse Tung, Trump) emerged from having a goal of toppling the usual order of things. 

We need to not get along. 

We need people who won’t just meekly go along with what’s already happening. 

We need people who DO want to argue — in spirit, if not in words. 

The disagreeable people — those who are looking for an idea or cause to argue against — are the difference makers of humanity. 

On Thursday, August 15, 4PM EST, I’m doing a live online training about this concept, and how you can leverage it in business to increase your revenue immediately. 

It’ll be about 90 minutes. It’s free, and you can register here: http://WorkOnMyGame.com/Live

#WorkOnYourGame 

-Dre Baldwin 

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