In defense of incorrect conclusions

Alternative tile: How to fail fast and often

I've spent much of my life in decision paralysis. While this may be moreso the case for me than others due to my ADHD, I think this is something that many people experience as they're transitioning from being a child, where most major decisions are made for them, to an adult, where they're forced to make major decisions that will shape their life for a long time to come.

First, a case study

Those familiar with my postings may know that I'm an unnecessarily enthusiastic fan of DEMONDICE. In one of her songs, there's a line that resonated deeply with me.

And if ya can't decide on the right path,

why not take two?

When I heard this, I spent a couple of days just repeating it everywhere. My twitter followers will know I made several posts that were essentially just this quote. Ignoring how I assumed that something that felt incredibly relevant to me would feel similarly relevant to others (and continuing to ignore how that doesn't matter a bit on my personal twitter account), it's clear that it affected my life, greatly.

Upon internalizing this quote I began making significant progress on a number of my goals and I can say honestly that it has helped me significantly.

But, is taking multiple paths in life the correct thing to do? Now, at the very least for myself, I would argue the answer is no. But it helped me significantly. How can we rationalize these two pieces of information?

Despite being an incorrect conclusion, it unblocked my decision paralysis and set me well on the way to finding a path for my future.

By taking steps on a number of paths I wanted to pursue, it helped me understand several things:

  1. Which of said paths were actually important to me, and
  2. How to synergize them into a singular path.

I would continue to argue that it was a fallacy to assume that the original conclusion I reached was DEMONDICE's goal when writing the lyric. It was instructional, and didn't attempt to make any great insights about life, but I took it as making one regardless. That's a topic for another post, however.

The important question

Is this insight generalizable?

It's easy to look at this case study and say "Well, this particular conclusion just happened to work for you, no?" and you would be completely correct in this conclusion.

That said, I'd argue that this conclusion falls in a category of conclusions separate from the incorrect/correct dichotomy. It falls into a category of conclusions that I'm tentatively calling virtuous conclusions.

As long as we maintain the ability to introspect inwards there is very little to no harm and much benefit to be gained from making incorrect conclusions, as long as they fall within our moral constraints. If this conclusion harmed me, I would have failed fast, meaning that I would have determined that it was an incorrect and harmful conclusion. This would have helped me determine a more correct conclusion, if only through process of elimination but likely through much more.

Conclusion

In essence, the key takeaway point from this is that acting on an incorrect conclusion was the correct choice over inaction (paralysis over finding the correct conclusion) and an argument that this is always the correct choice.

It's possible that you didn't need a lengthy blog post to come to this conclusion, but it didn't come easily to me so I have the feeling this post can help at least one other person.

Lastly, a call to action. Whatever it is you're hesitating on over fear of approaching it incorrectly, go ahead and take that first step. Theorizing over it in your head can only do so much to help you.

Then again, who knows, maybe this is an incorrect conclusion. That's probably fine though.