The most important, quintessential heart of rationality is anti-dogma 1or, skepticism; all ideas are fallible, and error-correction is necessary to validate ideas.2“All unquestioned ideas are false.”
So, critical thinking is essentially critical questioning. The less certain you are to the ideas inside your head, the closer you are to the truth.
All the great thinkers in this world are characterized by their skepticism to ideas.
On the contrary, conviction is the name of the game…when it comes to any game. In any activity, the lack of conviction is the room for error(failure).3This is plenty obvious for athletes. If you have doubts about shooting the basketball, the ball won’t go in.4And indeed not limited to sports; if you’re making business decisions, you better commit to it; if you want to be fit, you better stick to your diet.
If you’re doing anything serious, going 100% will get you 100x results than going 80%, and going any less than 80% will get you 0 results.5Nothing great has ever been done by half-assing it.
(Hence, perhaps going all-in is better than having a plan-b, even if it fails. The amount of learning and the potential reward is unparalleled, and that’ll lead to more dots–seemingly less certain than a plan-b.)
All the great doers in this world are characterized by their commitment to ideas.
“How is someone supposed to be skeptical about their ideas, yet have the full confidence to commit to them?”
It’s about balance. You want to have a bit of skepticism in your ideas, so you aren’t delusional, and you want a bit of belief in your ideas, so you act on them.
This is mistaken. By taking this route, you won’t get the best of both worlds, but neither. It only makes you a half-ass thinker and a half-ass doer.
It’s not about balance; there is no tradeoff. The mistake comes from confusing conviction with confidence.
Confidence is the notion that “I know for sure that this works and is true.”
Conviction is the notion that “This is the best option I’ve got, and there is no better way, in this moment.”
When there is no other way, it’s easy to commit. (Even when there are better “possible” choices, there’s only one best choice “you” can make. Whatever it is, if you’ve made the best choice you (with your abilities) could’ve possibly made, you can have conviction.)
Think and act separately. when you think, think; when you act, act. Think hard, question everything, commit to one, go all in, repeat.
You Don’t Need Confidence
People think they need confidence to act. People want to “know” that what they’re doing guarantees a certain outcome. But that only leads to anxiety; that only leads to “what if it doesn’t work?” and “what do I do if it doesn’t work?” and “am I overestimating myself?” and such.
People think they need confidence to win. Athletes want confidence to get rid of their anxiety. “Self-confidence is the key to performance. Believe in yourself.” is the biggest unquestioned maxim in athletics. In fact, it’s true–only to those who believe it’s true.
But, if you act because there is no better way, there’s no anxiety. If it fails, it fails; that failure is out of your hands because you’ve done your best. (Then, you’ll know whether you really are doing your best, by your level of anxiety.) With conviction in your actions, you’re indifferent to outcomes outside of your actions.
(In a sense, that plan-b is what’s creating the anxiety.)
You don’t need confidence. You need conviction.
“The player makes his best shot, not when he’s confident it’ll score, but when that shot is the best move he could possibly make; when he’s 100% focused on making that shot–not on whether it scores or not.“