I would like you to become very conscious of your values and use them to make decisions. This 2004 TED talk by Malcom Gladwell will make my case for me.
First, we don’t know what we want until someone offers an opportunity to try it
…if you sit down, and you analyze all this data on spaghetti sauce, you realize that all Americans fall into one of three groups. There are people who like their spaghetti sauce plain; there are people who like their spaghetti sauce spicy; and there are people who like it extra chunky.
And of those three facts, the third one was the most significant, because at the time, in the early 1980s, if you went to a supermarket, you would not find extra-chunky spaghetti sauce. And Prego turned to Howard, and they said, “You’re telling me that one third of Americans crave extra-chunky spaghetti sauce and yet no one is servicing their needs?” And he said “Yes!”
Second, even if we do know what we want, we’re reluctant to say it.
If I asked all of you, for example, in this room, what you want in a coffee, you know what you’d say? Every one of you would say, “I want a dark, rich, hearty roast.” It’s what people always say when you ask them what they want in a coffee. What do you like? Dark, rich, hearty roast! What percentage of you actually like a dark, rich, hearty roast? According to Howard, somewhere between 25 and 27 percent of you. Most of you like milky, weak coffee. But you will never, ever say to someone who asks you what you want that “I want a milky, weak coffee.”
Third, what is the right mustard or life for me will not be the right mustard or life for you.
If I were to ask all of you to try and come up with a brand of coffee — a type of coffee, a brew — that made all of you happy, and then I asked you to rate that coffee, the average score in this room for coffee would be about 60 on a scale of 0 to 100. If, however, you allowed me to break you into coffee clusters, maybe three or four coffee clusters, and I could make coffee just for each of those individual clusters, your scores would go from 60 to 75 or 78. The difference between coffee at 60 and coffee at 78 is a difference between coffee that makes you wince, and coffee that makes you deliriously happy.
It is my fondest wish for you, to find the things in life that give you peace and joy. I can’t tell you what they are or how exactly to pursue them. We all have a different assortment of goods in our carts. If you know who you are and what you value, you will have a framework for evaluating opportunities. Is this me or is this not me?
Who are you?
How have you been searching for “universals” in your life?
Have you been trying to make yourself or others conform to universals?
What prevents you from embracing variability in people?
What can you do to adopt a scientific mindset and experiment with what works best for you?
How many varieties of your personal “tomato sauce” might you have to try?