What is vitally important in every person’s life? Understanding why you do what you do.
From the time we’re born and all through childhood, our parents tell us what to do - when, why, how. We trust them. We trust that what they tell us is in our best interest. It’s an evolutionary advantage for us as children, since we don’t know enough to make wise decisions, particularly ones that keep us alive. We have faith in our parents that what they say is correct, and we don’t question them. They’re the experts we rely on to stay alive.
Even when we enter adulthood, we still learn from our parents and others. But we should exercise caution with the blind faith we place in people. As we grow older, we must ween ourselves off of trusting that others know what’s better for us than we do.
We live in an age of experts. From doctors and dentists, to car mechanics and financial advisers, to politicians and religious leaders. We’re taught to trust what experts say, without question, because they know best. At least in their subject matter. But people are fallible. People have fears, biases, weaknesses, power trips, sleepless nights, motivations, ignorance, forgetfulness, lack of experience, and the way they’ve always done it.
At a certain age, we should question the validity, truthfulness, and applicability of what others say. If it’s in your best interest, there should be a good explanation and reason why. Beware anyone who tells you to do something “because I said so” or “just trust me”. Don’t be the gullible person taken for all their worth.
Many experts we’ll meet are experts of a particular field; they’ve made a career of it. But they’re just people. They have, just like you and I do, all the limits of the human condition. So they’re not all-knowing and well-intentioned.
How about the fact that any professional whom you pay has an opportunity to and a certain advantage to get you to pay them more money. This, combined with all the other human limitations they face, should be a red flag to question whether the repairs the mechanic has quoted you are really necessary. Same for when doctors prescribe medications or refer you to a specialist or say you need some procedure.
This isn’t to say “never trust anyone”. But, rather, be quite careful about who you trust. If they are truly experts, they will have sound reasoning and experience behind their advice. So hold them accountable.
Make them justify their comments, explanations, commands, recommendations. If they don’t make sense to you, push back. Ask them to explain it again, in a different way. Make them clarify their viewpoint. A true expert should be able to do this. Ultimately, you’re the one who makes the decision, so make sure you’re well informed.
There are areas of which we’ll have no knowledge or experience or interest. But require that the experts who do back up their statements with reason, logic, and an ability to explain it to the average Joe. Otherwise, how could we call them experts?
And if we should require this effort of experts, how much more should we require it of people in general?
It’s easy to set our autopilot and go with the flow, but we should still be conscientious of our actions. There’s a power in understanding the why behind an action.
Don’t just do what you’re told. Question everything and everyone. Challenge them. Make them make sense to you. When you act, be sure you’re the one who’s deciding. That way, you hold the power in your life.