Strong opinions, loosely held

This one I've got down... or so I thought.

I'm pretty amenable to other people's opinions.

I often hold things with an open hand and welcome input from others.

And yet when I asked for feedback from a leader I work with regularly and highly respect, he told me I tend to dig in my heels from time to time.

"Strong options, loosely held" is what we're going for.

And it's the "loosely held" part where I have room to grow.

How was I not seeing that?

I know how important it is to hold opinions loosely and allow others to speak into decisions.

And I thought I was!

After all, I have lots of strong opinions and I regularly cede my position to someone else who has a more informed or better perspective than mine.

But here's what I came to realize.

The opinions I've been holding loosely and my strong opinions are two different sets of opinions!

Of course I hold loosely the opinions I don't care about!

It's the ones I develop strong convictions about that are the problem.

It's when I become passionate about the position I've developed or the solution I've become convinced is right that I can lean towards being intractable.

The passion is good.
It moves things forward.

I don't want to lose that.

But I also don't want to be that guy who can't be moved once he's formed a strong opinion.

And I see it now.

The day after I received this feedback, I found myself strongly defending an approach I've been suggesting to a real problem we're facing.

"Don't worry about it."
"I have it figured out."
"You'll love it."
"Customers will love it."
"It's perfect."

I had landed on a great solution and now I just had to make sure no one got in the way.


There I was living out a strong opinion strongly held.

Sigh. 😔

Before receiving that helpful bit of feedback, I would not have thought twice about the interaction.

I couldn't see it.

But now I could do something about it!

I texted the person I had the conversation with and apologized for coming in hot.

I scheduled a follow-up conversation to bring them up to speed on the thinking I've been doing to this point and collect their ideas and feedback.

So the takeaway is not to hold your opinions more loosely (although yes, like me, you may need to make a few adjustments there).

Here's the big takeaway:

It is wildly valuable when someone who knows you well is willing to shed light on the shortcomings you just can't see.

Seek it out!

I had to ask for it.
And I'm glad I did!

How many other areas are there where we're completely blind to our need for improvement?

Where else can we get better?

Who else knows us well enough and cares enough about us to give us the truth about the ways we could get better?

Are we seeking them out?

Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong

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