In praise of naivete

How to be less naive in 13 ways

Often I have been told that I am naive and that is not the way the world works. At times I think that is an unfair criticism. It is clear that I have a lot of experience and believe I can offer wisdom and use good judgement. I appear naive then, not because I don’t understand but because that is not the way that I want the world to work.

Being called naive is often a pejorative term that people use to put down those who challenge the status quo. I have heard it many times as I railed against the power struggles that went on within the organisations I worked. My apparent naivete was an expression of my distaste rather than a lack of understanding.

My argument is that at times we all need to approach the world in a less sophisticated, more childlike way to expose its wrongdoings, both unintentional and intentional. Work could flow better, procedures could be improved, products could be redesigned and relationships repaired if we all took a step back and accepted that the status quo may not be the best. A little naivete is a useful tool to unpick and offer challenge to the current position.

Like most words in the english language, naive has different connotations. Who would want to be known as guileless or unworldly? Yet the same word can also mean trustful, unaffected and unpretentious. These latter qualities are the very things that we need to move our lives forward.

Everywhere you look today, in all corners of the world, there are seemingly intractable problems that lead to strife and suffering for millions of people. The easiest option for us is to shake our heads and claim that this is the way things are and to defend the status quo. The better option is to take a different perspective and reject the confines of current group think and try a fresh approach to resolving such issues.

Just because things are this way now does not mean that they have to be so in future. History is littered with bad ideas that we used to accept as normal.

Or am I just being naive?

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