Trial and error

Contrarian thinking and heterodoxy have become more popular. Sold by pessimists, optimists and realists as the magic elixir for success in any field.

The popular understanding is that to be successful, study what the crowd is doing and do the opposite. If you have this popular understanding, you are not that contrarian. You like the idea of being contrarian, but the crowd still determines your direction.

The subtle insight in the advice on contrarian thinking and heterodoxy is simple, but hard – Pay attention to yourself. What works for you? What doesn’t work for you?

You might not yet know why or how what works actually works. Stay with it, independent of what everybody thinks. If the crowd cheers you on, great, not that it matters. If the crowd boos at you, great, it doesn’t matter.

Contrarian thinking and heterodoxy are code words for courage. Courage to follow your unique truth. That truth is not dependent on where the crowd is going or not going. It is dependent on what works for you.

How do you find what works for you? Plain old trial and error.

This is why the advice that always follows contrarian thinking and heterodoxy is to embrace mistakes and failure (features of trial and error), on your path to whatever success means to you.

– Osasu Oviawe

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