Political correctness is ruining the world

Political correctness is ruining the world. And I am not referring here to the actual concept of the term. The core principle is one of value. But the way it is used and implemented nowadays is hurting everyone. Sometimes, too much of a good thing can be harmful instead of helpful.

Political correctness can be resumed in three simple words. Respect for others. At least that’s how it used to be. But people, especially the young generations, are taking it too far. Now, almost anything you say that contradicts someone else’s opinion is not politically correct.

You can’t argue that the pay gap between men and women isn’t because of sexism. Feminists will lash out. If you say you love meat, vegans will feel disgusted. So you better not bring up the subject. Don’t talk about religion or politics because someone will feel offended. Everything that’s related to personal beliefs is now taboo.

And it’s only getting worse. Each day new topics become outlawed. Soon enough everything will be taboo. But we’ll be able to talk about the weather. Or not. A climate change denier might feel offended. And then we’ll scratch that off the list as well. But, except for running out of topics to talk about, let’s see how political correctness is ruining the world.

With the recent attention the political world has received, this is a perfect example. People are avoiding to discuss this topic nowadays. It’s not politically correct to express your political views in most environments. No politics at work, no politics with relatives, no politics with anyone. But here’s the catch, not with anyone who has a different view than yours. Take Trump for example. If you are against Trump, it’s perfectly fine to discuss it with someone who thinks the same way as you do. But whatever you do, don’t bring the subject up with someone pro-Trump, it’s inappropriate.

People have come to understand political correctness totally wrong. On the one hand there are those who, in their overzealous way of trying to please everyone, don’t want to say anything that’s against the views of others. On the other hand there are those who, when confronted with a different opinion than theirs, play the political correctness card to avoid discussing the subject.

What this does is to create confirmation bias bubbles. Yes, there’s been a lot of discussion on this topic lately. Each of the things I mentioned above has formed its own bubble. And there are many more out there, most of them amplified by social media (Facebook has a big share of the blame to take on this one), partisan media outlets, and political correctness. People from the same side of the bias come together to feed their own biases. And when opposite sides meet, they avoid talking about their different opinions. It’s not politically correct.

Biases without an open discussion based on facts only get stronger. This is where political correctness messes things up. People are not confronted with opinions that clash with their own beliefs. And when they do, they get offended because it’s not politically correct to have a debate anymore. Let’s not start a debate by expressing a different point of view. And that’s how you divide people.

Instead of creating a medium where people could debate and express their own beliefs in a respectful manner, political correctness has been one of the major catalysts of bubble creation. Without a proper discussion in which different opinions clash and facts are checked against one’s biases, we increase ignorance. Ignorance reinforces biases. Welcome to the loop. Thus, political correctness is ruining the world with each debate we’re not having.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully support a respectful conversation based on mutual respect and fueled by facts and fact checking. But what I don’t tolerate is hiding behind political correctness in order to protect your biases.

Ownership of learning

Learning is what shapes and ultimately defines us. The path we are going to follow for the duration of our life is enabled by our education. And while learning is one of the most important aspects of life, the ownership of learning is often overlooked. People rarely have control over their learning. And when they do, it’s only partial.

In the first part of one’s life parents are mostly in charge of their education. Most parents try to influence their children to follow a path they believe will offer the best outcome. Others try to have their unfulfilled dreams come true through their offspring. Either way, they strip the ownership of learning and enforce their own views upon their children’s education.

Then comes school, college, master’s degree, MBA and other forms of education. Here, the educational system plays an important role. Each country, along with its institutions, is responsible for programs of study, subjects and curriculum. These are mostly under the control of politicians, teachers, trainers or personal development experts.

Once one reaches adulthood and gets employed, their career path is in the hands of their employer. Courses, training, shadowing programs, training on the job, certifications and continuous education are all decided mostly by the employer.

Thus, most people end up having their education being decided for them by someone else for the entire duration of their life.

Without ownership of education, the paths people follow are dictated by almost anyone except the person actually receiving the education. And let’s be honest, most of our educational systems are failing their students. The skills we teach our kids and employees are outdated, in an outdated format and boring. This creates a lot of people being unhappy with their education, jobs and ultimately, their life. Force-feeding education leads to unhappy people and poor results.

On the other hand, people who take ownership of their education have better results and are happier with their careers and personal life. This is an important aspect that both the person in charge of the education and the one receiving it should be aware of and strive to obtain.

We need to change our way of teaching, the skills we teach and who has the ownership of learning.

Comparing yourself to others

Comparing yourself to others is not very useful. Studies have shown little to no improvement and in some cases even a negative effect on results when people are being compared to peers or another person. Also, always comparing yourself to others create dissatisfaction and leads to low self esteem from misjudging the other person or by under-evaluating yourself.

On the other hand when comparing yourself to you and your past results things change dramatically. Studies show that students who know that their results will be compared to their past results, and not to other peers, perform a lot better and constantly improve. Also, while these people struggle as well, fail or need to retake the same exams, tests or redo tasks several times before improving, once they do, their results skyrocket.

Comparing is not the issue, but rather the point of reference. When moving from comparing yourself to others or external references to yourself and past performances the effects are outstanding.

Fixed vs growth mindset

There are a lot of elements which differentiate a fixed from a growth mindset. You can find intricate schemes to highlight different characteristics and how people act based on their mindset. But if you want to reduce it to the most basic elements, the real difference is your view on the world and yourself.

A person with a fixed mindset believes in static attributes (IQ, EQ, strength, speed) and inherited abilities or skills. This leads to “I’m not good at math” or “I’m not talented enough to play basketball at pro level”. On the other hand, a person with a growth mindset believes he can always improve everything from his intelligence, to physical abilities, and skills.

I am not that good… yet.

I am not that smart… yet.

I am not that strong… yet.

I don’t know it… yet.

I don’t have the necessary skills… yet.

I can’t do it… yet.

Yet is an extremely important word that can change your entire mindset when approaching a difficult situation. Just by adding this single word into your daily vocabulary you can program yourself to make a small change into moving from a fixed to a growth mindset.

It’s up to you if you choose to get stuck into believing that it’s nature’s fault that you’re not good enough or take responsibility and put in the necessary work in order to achieve what you want.

My biggest fear

What’s your biggest fear? You don’t have to answer. Actually it doesn’t even matter what your biggest fear is… It’s all in your head anyway. No matter if you are afraid of heights, spiders, public speaking, sharks or you’re claustrophobic, everything is just in your headYou are aware of that, you know it’s not an actual danger or a life threatening situation, but you can’t just help it being afraid.

Well, every excuse you have ever came up with to avoid: pursuing your dreams,  going that extra mile and deliver something extraordinary, talking to the person that could help your idea or project come to life, getting our of your comfort zone, are all in your head. Just like your biggest fear, they’re just a thought you know it’s not actually a true threat. But, nevertheless you keep using that as an excuse.

All those excuses are just a mask of your fear of failure, to make a fool of yourself, to be judged by others as not worthy, a looser. But that’s just in your head. You can’t accomplish great things without ever failing. All successful people have failed, have been rejected and have struggled before getting to their biggest success. Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb, at his first show Seinfeld froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage, during his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, Stephen King’s first book, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections. And the list can go on.

Everyone of them failed but they had something that many others didn’t, the courage try again. They knew that, much like all our biggest fears, the fear of failure is just in our heads.

At the end of the day what scares me the most is the fear of failing… Failing to be true to myself.