Be Open-Minded, But Mind Your Openness

A wise man once said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Every great advancement for the human race has come from technology."

In other words, every great change has come from an open willingness to think different.

Being closed off leads to freezing in the cold while other cavemen sit by that newfangled fire stuff, watching my newspaper employer go out of business while new internet companies take over, and staying with stodgy mutual funds while billions are made buying bitcoins. 

Not having an open mind can have disastrous consequences. 

But does that mean we should be open to everything?

Should we listen to William Orton in 1976 when he said, "The 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication."

Should we really be open to Byte magazine when they said in 1998, "Y2K is a crisis without precedent in human history"?

And should we really spend Halloween in the pumpkin patch instead of getting a bunch of delicious candy? 

Being open to all of those things would also have been a disaster. 

So which is it: be open or be closed?


One thing seems to always come true. You are the average of the five people around you.

The key is to be around five great people. 

In specific, be around smart people. Being open to smart things can make our lives better.

The question then is: how do we know we're listening to smart things?


A smart opinion will make you think, and a smart opinion will make sense. A smart opinion is also not emotional.

Bill Orton didn't like the telephone because he worked for Western Union. Of course, he didn't like the telephone. The telephone was bad for him.

Byte magazine needed eyeballs on its publication. Nothing creates attention like fear-mongering. Say things that make people afraid, and notoriety will follow.

And Linus wanted some presents on Halloween. That's why he yearned for the Great Pumpkin.

In all of those cases, evidence was low and emotion was high. When dealing with high emotions, being closed is a great choice.

There are good reasons why fire could be useful. There are good reasons why Apple was revolutionary. There are good reasons why Bitcoin is going through the roof. 

Being open can change our lives in the best ways possible.

Just don't be too open.

My latest book is The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.