The Seekers Mode: What Steve Jobs And Richard Feynman Have In Common
Maarten van Doorn

A very thoughtful and insightful article. I, too, used to be this person and I think it’s usually inherent for seekers of truth probably more so for ones with big egos.

I remembered one of the first heated debates that I was involved in. It was whether looser racquet string tension gives you more control or power. To someone like myself at the time which was basically a walking tennis encyclopedia, this is a no-brainer to me and so when I was talking this guy who proclaimed looser string tension gives you more control, that was enough for me to set him in the right path.

Unfortunately, there were no smart phones or internet back then or I prove him on the spot what an idiot he is. Perhaps, it’s not too bad too debate these days since you have Google at your palm? But I digress. I wasn’t going to just prove this guy wrong but that he is a total idiot. That was my mentality back in the days.

We kept going at it for hours. This guy was basically rationalizing with himself and believes if the strings are loose, the ball will stay on the strings for a longer time. For me, I did not really have a technical explanation but I can state all my sources. One of my friends, finally yelled out, Shut up already, just let him be. Let him be? I just cannot fathom that idea. But in the end, with no smart phone or books at the location, nobody won the debate.

I had another similar debate and this was involving the tennis instructor and his forehand mechanics. He was basically teaching everyone to hit a forehand with a straight arm. This is not only dangerous for your elbow but really bad mechanics and so I told him off.

Of course, he didn’t believe me so I brought all my tennis magazines the next day to prove him wrong. Still this guy would not relent and mockingly asked, What is this a trial? Not only was he the tennis instructor for a class but the tennis coach. The knowledge he had on the sport is so outdated and wrong that I feel sorry for any student who was actually listening to him. In the end, it took the women’s tennis coach to correct him when he incorrectly marked several questions as wrong on the final written exam. My 98 was really a 100. There was just no way that I cannot get a 100 on an exam in tennis.

Those were my childhood days and I did not change my ways until after I was fired from several jobs because of my argumentative ways. The thing to remember is you may win the argument or battle. But these ppl won’t forget you when it’s time to make job cuts and the guy that gave them a hard time in the past will surely be the first to be cut. You will lose the war.

I think a lot of my issues stem from my need to be the best and prove others wrong. It’s an ego thing. In order for me to be the best, they have to be idiots. Though I don’t doubt that some of these ppl like that tennis coach is indeed one, but in the grand scheme of things, is it worth losing a job? Or worse, soiling relationships with colleagues and other ppl?

I was watching a movie on the life of Jimi Hendrix one day and it really put things in perspective for me. In one scene, a promoter kept pushing him to do stuff and then asks him, Don’t you want to be the best in the world? Of course, we all know, he’s already the best. But Hendrix replied, No. No, I don’t. I just want to make music that inspires other ppl and be inspired by others. This to me is a game changer because it automatically switched my brain from finder mode to seeker mode. The thing is, in subscribing to this mindset, Hendrix learned a lot and got along with ppl which ultimately led him to becoming the best guitarist that ever lived. You don’t have to engage in endless debates to prove ppl wrong. They will eventually get it or never get it but that’s on them.

These days, I rarely correct ppl if I know they will be unhappy if I do it. Ppl don’t like to be wrong. Unless the correct information is a matter of life or death, I just let them be. I usually just go along with the wrong answer if the team believes that’s the right choice. It’s not wrong. It’s called compromise. And it lets me keep my job which is always a plus.

In the end, it’s not just striving to be a seeker but recognizing the finders. The finders just don’t want to be proven wrong because usually they wrap their entire egos into the debate. I should know, I used to do this all the time. The best course of action is just let them be. Some ppl are too self-absorbed to know better. Some are just stubborn by nature. What we know as facts today may be proven wrong in the future. It was not so long ago when fat was the enemy to dieting and Pluto was the 9th planet from the sun.

Rather, live life as a sponge, always eager and willing to absorb knowledge, right or wrong. You can always research on Google afterwards. No need to debate it to death when you don’t really know. Ppl will like you because you are listening and not fighting against them and you don’t waste your time arguing. It’s about humility and why it’s a crucial quality to develop good relationships. Nobody likes a know-it-all who just talks about himself ala Trump.

In the workplace, I feel some managers want this type of employee who just have all the answers. It’s easier. Just like the Trump followers are looking for a messiah to save them. It doesn’t exist. These days when managers try to pigeon-hold me as the expert, I shy away immediately. It’s very tempting sometimes. Who doesn’t want to play God? I will almost always defer them that it’ll be a team effort and that everyone can contribute because we all have great ideas. Who doesn’t want to contribute his ideas to the team? This in turn makes everyone feel good and in effect I did a complete 180 from my old days of debating something to death just to prove that I’m right and making some ppl feel miserable in the aftermath.