My Opinion on Opinion

My Opinion on Opinion is this: Replace them all with great questions.

Inside of this time of great uncertainty, I have noticed that people are throwing around a lot of opinions, in particular around quarantine, the opening of businesses, and rates of infection to name a few. When do we as human beings typically offer up our opinions? When we have something of value that is threatened, when anyone or anything threatens our identity, lifestyle, religion, politics, or anything else that we allow to define us. Sometimes we just do it for entertainment. Often, it makes us feel better – more insulated and secure - to join one camp of opinion or the other.

In the salon setting with seasoned professionals, as well as in training new hairdressers, what I’ve noticed is people are all too happy to sit in opinions they have borrowed and have not truly earned. They are often unwilling to question where their opinions have come from, and whether holding them so tightly is serving them or the people they interact with - both at work and at home. Entering this new COVID-19 reality, some of these unquestioned opinions will cause us to miss opportunities to bend and adapt the way we must.

 What is an opinion? The dictionary definition is this: a judgment, viewpoint, or statement that is not conclusive. What if we took the time to get the facts? Spent some time distinguishing facts from our judgments, and the inconclusive statements and thoughts that dominate us, moment by moment.  For some time now (off an on of course), I have personally tried to distinguish fact from my opinion. I have found that most of the time, I can come up with very little fact underpinning my opinions.

What is a fact? According to the dictionary, a fact is a thing that is known to be proven to be true, with evidence. I have come to the conclusion that I still mostly live in opinion, not fact.

The good thing is that I have begun to cultivate an awareness of this and when conscious enough, I can stop myself, and ask,

"how do I know this to be true?"

 Another question I have asked myself is this:

"What is the impact of living into my opinions of myself and of others?"

and then,

"Am I willing to live inside the impact of these stories?"

The answer was no.

We humans do a lot of damage with our opinions. I’ve had opinions about people and ideas and concepts most of my life which, looking back, I’ve found to be unhelpful at best.  In fact, I shudder to think of the opinions I’ve held, and am disturbed about what damage those opinions have done to my life and my relationships. 

Ultimately our opinions are brought to us by our experiences in life, stories we’ve been told, cultures we belong to. But are those opinions serving you, and your fellow human beings? Personally, I have decided to practice asking good questions, for my own benefit, and potentially for the benefit of others. I’m asking myself what I’m thinking about rather than forming a snap opinion. For example, some people are of the opinion that Justin Trudeau did not handle the COVID-19 crisis well, and are calling for his resignation. Is this opinion founded in fact - or not? Or is it not a yes or no question at all, but a series of questions to discern fact from spin and partisan views? And will we possibly only know the truth as the facts are exposed?

All of this thinking can be applied also to the big questions of life, such as where do we go when we die, how was the world created, things for which there are no facts, and no evidence. As the Buddhists say, the beginner’s mind is a joyful place. Consider this - we are all just beginners and; a work in progress.

So…when you’re navigating the new normal of salon life with social distancing, examine your opinions and be prepared to throw out those that will hold you back. Really think about what questions you need to ask your staff, your guests, your peers, and yourself as we create a different salon experience in the future.