In 2016, Warren Buffet gambled. He invested heavily in four major airlines, surprising many observers after years of shunning the industry. For a while, it looked like his bet would pay off.
Four years later, at Berkshire Hathaway’s recent shareholder meeting, he announced that he had sold all his airline holdings. “We made an understandable mistake,” he told the audience. He was open-minded enough to assess the future of airlines, determine its dim prospects, and admit that he had erred.
Fellow billionaire Ray Dalio shares a similar philosophy. In his book Principles, he writes, “Open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong.” He points out that our blind spots — gaps in our knowledge and expertise — and ego get in the way of recognizing and admitting to our errors.
Both billionaires demonstrate the virtue of self-skepticism.
The practice of questioning and objectively evaluating evidence that might disprove your beliefs or expose your flawed decisions — self-skepticism
Whether you despise or revere people like Buffet and Dalio, they both embrace a vital truth that helped make them successful: humans are imperfect beings who will be proven wrong about things they are sure about.
Most of us struggle with recognizing and admitting to our errors in judgment. It’s not your fault. Our culture reveres those who exude perfection and those who remain steadfast in their beliefs, no matter the contradictory evidence.
But you can develop the practice of self-skepticism. It may not make you a billionaire, but it will help you succeed in whatever facet of life you apply it.
How to Develop Your Powers of Self-skepticism
These six exercises will help you develop the attitude and behaviors to question and challenge your decisions and beliefs.