Is It Good To Be Predictable?

If someone describes you as predictable, do you think that is a good thing? Do you consider yourself predictable?

There are definitely advantages to being predictable. Primarily, people know what to expect from you. If you are driving in fast-moving traffic, for example, following the rules of the road and not behaving erratically means you are much less likely to be in an accident.

The same thing holds true in your personal relationships. If you behave consistently, your friends and family will find your presence to be stable. If you always show up for work at the same time, then your co-workers will recognize that about you and act accordingly.

Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How do you think others see you?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How can we maintain wonder?’

And yet, there are times when predictability can be a drawback. If you follow the same routine, talk about the same things, and go to the same places, growth can be hard to achieve. To be spontaneous can also have advantages.

There are certainly times that acting predictably can be a drawback. When waging a battle, whether an actual physical skirmish, or a proxy like a sports game or a board game, doing the unexpected can be an effective strategy for unsettling your opponent.

So there are times when each is preferable. In general, do you like one over the other? Can you think of other examples where it might be beneficial, or harmful, for people to guess what you are going to do in any given situation? Is it good to be predictable?

Related questions: What is your five year prediction? Ten? Why do people like games? How do you think others see you?


Are We Living Through History?

When reading through history books, it is easy to wonder about people who lived through historic events. Were they aware they were making history?

What did people living in the 1930s think about the Great Depression? Did they appreciate the magnitude of what was happening, or were they just trying to survive from day to day?

Did the young men fighting in the Civil War think that what they were doing would be written down and studied? Perhaps, instead, it was just what was happening in their lives at that time.

There were plenty of people who joined the Civil Rights marches in the 1960s. And there were others that opposed them. Were they speaking to future generations, or just trying to convince others to help them?

We are living through a global pandemic, political upheaval, racial unrest, and environmental catastrophe. Someday in the future, will students read about us in their textbooks? Will they learn about what happened here and now, and wonder about the people — us — that lived through it?

Are we living through history?

Related questions: What historical figure would you like to meet? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? Should we be concerned with legacy? What do we owe the future?

Democracy Or Tyranny?

Democracy or tyranny?

Democracy Or Tyranny?

What Expectations Do You Have Of Others?

The relationships we have — with your spouse, your friends, your boss, your neighbors, and so on — define our lives. Do you have any expectations of those people, or of those relationships?

As we navigate our lives, we build mental models of the world around us. The sun rises every day in the east, and sets in the west, for example. We can predict that, based on our previous experiences, combined with what we have learned.

Naturally, that includes the people around us. At first, your parents, and perhaps siblings. Then schoolmates, teachers, etc. What they say, how they act, teaches you about what people are like.

So what have you learned? What kinds of behaviors and actions are a baseline? Moreover, do those expectations change for someone you know well, versus someone you are meeting for the first time?

Imagine someone else exceeding your expectations. What would that mean? What are the basic things in another human being that you anticipate?

Similarly, how might someone fall below the behavior you have come to expect. Does that happen often?

Are there other factors that might influence those expectations, like age, religion, gender, political party, musical taste, hobbies, and so on?

Finally, how might that change between yourself and others? Do you expect more of yourself than someone else, or less? Do you think others would agree with your opinion in this regard?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? How do you know who to trust? How important is respect? What gives a person value?


What Will Be The New Normal?

As we experience the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all eager to be done with it. But when that happens — whenever that happens — what will normal life be like?

It can be difficult (some would say impossible) to predict the future. However, what are your guesses for what life will be like once the current restrictions are lifted?

There are many potential impacts, from the personal to the global. For example, here are some questions:

Once large gatherings are allowed again, will a significant number of people be hesitant to join in? That is, enough to see a decline in ticket sales to sporting events, rock concerts, and the like?

Will shaking hands or hugging be replaced with some sort of non-contact greeting?

The health care industry is being pushed to, and sometimes past, acceptable limits. Will they experience any lasting changes or effects?

What will this mean for preparedness for future epidemics or pandemics? What about other natural crises, like climate change? We have certainly seen that it is possible to make sweeping changes when the proper motivation exists.

Are our relationships, between family, friends, neighbors, and all the way up to countries, helped or harmed?

Will there be more political will for raising the minimum wage on “essential” workers? Teachers seem to have a newfound appreciation, but will that translate to better pay? Will policies like paid sick leave and universal child care see more traction? Will work from home become more common and accepted, resulting in less traffic on roads and shorter commute times?

Alternately, will things immediately (or eventually) go back to how they were before, with no real lasting changes to our society or way of life?

What will be the new normal?

Related questions: What is your five year prediction? Ten? COVID-19?