I’ve been meaning to write about a book that challenged and led to me changing beliefs more than any other I can think of.
I write about beliefs and mental models here a lot. My leadership seminars and courses cover beliefs, how they influence your perceptions, and how to change them. Some beliefs you change a lot, or at least you feel flexible about. Some beliefs you believe and you don’t think twice about them. They feel like truths. Few things challenge them.
I find it fascinating when you find a longstanding belief upended by a new perspective that explains things more effectively than the old beliefs. The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell did that for me. I understood differences between men and women, or thought I did. This book presented new ways of seeing things that explained many things more effectively and simply.
It also addressed an unease I had felt since around my seventeenth birthday, when I received a letter from the government that said that by my next birthday I would have to register for selective service for the military draft. I didn’t feel old or mature enough to decide on risking my life or to understand war, but the government that I thought was supposed to represent me decided for me that it could send me to risk dying. My sisters didn’t get such a letter. Until this book I could never make sense of why I got the letter and they didn’t.
Like everyone, I noticed more male CEOs, Presidents, judges, and so on. Though it was in front of my face, I noticed but didn’t register that there were more male homeless, soldiers, manual laborers, coal miners, and so on but no one paid attention to them. What about them?
I won’t try to summarize the book. I’ll only mention that it changed my beliefs and explained more than I expected. Come to think of it, I think I read it skeptically, predisposed to criticize it.
Anyway, I read it and recommend reading it, if for no other reason than to practice challenging your beliefs. Many people consider it controversial, though. After that book I read Why Men Are the Way They Are, by the same author, which I found equally belief challenging.