"Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers -- and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree."
Thinking partners who aren't echo chambers is a fantastic model of collaboration. We have an innate neurobiological drive to prefer people who think similarly to us, but as Margaret demonstrates, this is not always the best way to progress, develop creativity and solutions. Margaret suggests it's always a good idea to be ready to change your mind.
I was very inspired by Margaret Heffernen's Ted Talk "Dare to Disagree" and the story of Alice Stewart, an epidemiologist who chose to study childhood cancers. Her findings flew in the face of conventional wisdom, and huge enthusiasm for the cool new technology of the time which was X-ray machines.
Talking EMR issues with the general public has been and still is a difficult journey for me and my family but an absolute necessity for our health and wellbeing. We all have different ways of assimilating information that is inconvenient and not widely publicised or accepted by the authorities or those that should be aware such as the medical progress. We need the proof (understandable - I spent a lot of time trying to disprove that it was EMR that impacted my health) and if we don't feel it we can all be guilty of being less than understanding sometimes.
Having a family member that found this new EMR information impacting lifestyle and technology choices in our vicinity extremely difficult to accept helped me to "raise the bar" - go beyond my self perceived limitations to seek connections with experts over the years, such as Prof Olle Johansson, Dr Andrew Tressider, Lloyd Burrell, Brian Stein, Dr Mary Redmayne, Dr Pri Bandara and many more. To learn large volumes of information, and share this with others in our community. In this process of learning came the acceptance of indifference or a different opinion.
I am pleased to say this person is now one of my greatest supporters, still challenging me with the difficult questions but valuing my commitment to finding balanced and sound opinion. Keeping me on the straight and narrow when things became emotive or out of kilter. I wouldn't be doing many of the things I am challenging myself to do without this disconfirmation of the information I was uncovering. Now that is a big kind of love. Do you recognise anyone in your life who is offering you this wonderful opportunity to stretch yourself?
It is my belief that we should not dismiss the creative opportunities that come from conflict and the ability for them to inspire individuals to push the boundaries of often self imposed limitations. Whilst these wonderful opposers might seem to be going against us at the time, obstructing our course and making life difficult, the discourse can often be the catalyst for growth and change.
Please enjoy Margaret's talk below. Get ready to welcome healthy conflict into your life and be a part of creating a thinking society today! Openness is just the beginning....