Why You Need to Contradict Yourself

Why You Need To Contradict Yourself - Brass Tack ThinkingThere was a time when I bought into the rosiest-colored world of social media hook, line, and sinker.

I preached cliches about engagement, I raged against misappropriation of measurement metrics and ROI. I lauded social media as the thing that could finally make marketing into what it should have been all along. I believed it should be easier to do than it really is and I uttered, with passion, overly-simplified sound bites like “you don’t control your brand anymore!”.


I’ve learned a lot since then. About the realities and complexities of business, about the intersection of social concepts into real world company culture and operations, about how rarely blanket statements of any kind apply to multiple organizations since they’re all so very different.

I’ve changed my mind on a lot of things completely. I’ve progressed my thinking on other ideas to be more nuanced or specific. I’ve upheld some very core principles, but I’ve matured significantly in terms of how I believe those principles look in practice.

And you know what? That’s okay. In fact, I think it’s essential.

The ability to adapt your thinking and perspective through experience, diverse input and critical thinking is the thing that will separate those that can always stay relevant from those that wonder when and how they got left behind.

Relentlessly standing fast in the midst of the same ideas — out of pride, stubbornness, ignorance or a combination of the three — is a death knell for your career, your business, and your ability to make a true, realistic impact on the world around you.

Staying nimble and deepening intelligence is about:

  • listening and hearing more information than you have
  • considering that information using critical thinking skills
  • applying that information to what you know
  • expanding your knowledge, adapting your theories, and evolving your expression of all of the above to reflect what you’ve learned over time, even if that means you have to admit that you were wrong before.

Contradicting yourself is actually healthy.

If you haven’t looked back on your viewpoints and questioned yourself at least once, you’re likely surrounding yourself with yes-men and sycophants, falling terrible victim to confirmation bias, or severely limiting your experiences by staying inside your comfort zone.

The universe doesn’t stand in once place, unmoving. Our lives, experiences, businesses, or the whole of the information we take in through the course of it all aren’t static.

Our points of view shouldn’t be, either.

When was the last time you questioned your own?

  • http://twitter.com/profkrg Kenna Griffin


    As usual, this makes great sense. However, I’m not sure if it’s contradicting yourself as much as just learning. As we learn, we discover that some of our old ways of thinking/doing were incorrect. This seems to me like a natural, positive and exciting progression. Then again, I’m just a nerd like that.

    I always enjoy reading your blog. I hope you are well.


    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Hi Kenna,

      I think it’s all of the above. Sure it’s learning, but in some cases, learning *results* in a contradiction. I believed and said this before, now I’m saying this instead. Contradiction has a negative connotation, but it’s fair to say that some of my beliefs today are things that go directly against things I’ve communicated in the past. So it’s definitely contradictory, but I got there by learning, and that’s never a bad thing.

      Thanks for the comment.


      • C OAA

        I would still disagree. It’s more likely than not others cannot accept your change, which is not their business.

  • Kevin

    I think reexamining or questioning would be a better word than contradicting.

    • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

      Semantics, if you will. But in some cases, I’m outright contradicting beliefs I once held. So all of those words probably apply.

  • http://www.bizsugar.com/ Heather Stone

    Hi Amber,
    I think many social media consultants are afraid to admit that the social Web is an evolving thing, changing everyday as we use it. Certainly, there are tips, best practices, call them what you will. But just like your business and your customers, social media isn’t the same today as it was yesterday, and it won’t be the same tomorrow. Buzzwords aren’t a substitute for immersing yourself and learning with time. Thanks for your honesty and insight. And thanks to Amy Jordan for sharing this post with the BizSugar community!

  • @PatriciaMartin

    Simply stated. Profoundly felt.

  • http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    What you are speaking to here speaks directly to something I heard in the audio book, “You Are Not So Smart – A celebration of self-delusion” by David McRaney this morning . . .

    “In science, you move closer to the truth by seeking evidence to the
    contrary. Perhaps the same method should inform your opinions as well.”

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who seriously believes it’s a great idea to question their view point. And what’s cool is that you can test drive most of the content from his book, here . . .http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/23/confirmation-bias/

  • http://jephmaystruck.com/ Jeff Maystruck

    It’s a sign of growth when you can call yourself out for being wrong about a certain stance you once took. I used to use examples in presentations that I thought were once brilliant, a year later completely irrelevant (IE: Groupon, Foursquare, Facebook, haha). The world evolves, business evolves, marketing evolves, you have to change your beliefs. I think it’s more risky not to be changing ones’ opinions. Great post.


  • C O AA


    I wouldn’t call this contradiction.

    10 years ago, I thought libertarianism was grand and a literal panacea for humanity. Today, I think differently. I still deem myself libertarian, but based on internal reasoning and critical thinking I know reckon that its base principles are sound but it ignores basic human nature/motivation (,i.e. humans are more so emotional than logical).

    A normal/healthy person changes his or her beliefs routinely, based on experience, reflection, critical thinking or new information.