UNITED STATES—A journalist posed an intriguing question to me. Knowing what you know today, what would you have chosen to do differently in your writing methods? Top of the list would be to develop independent judgment as soon as possible.
This quality of judgment plays as vital role in health and nutrition as in becoming the next Ernest Hemingway. Independent judgment is the ability to rise above conflicting viewpoints and opinions and the wisdom of experts. Sometimes it means simply forgetting all that you’ve been told, to decide and stick with what is right and true. And what’s right and true for me may not be right and true for you.
Independent judgment is not rash. It implies asking questions, probing behind all the opinions and tips being offered. They have to back it up, and also clarify to see if you’re even on the same page. Still, after asking questions, independent judgment is easier said than done. To make the independent call often involves that sinking airplane-bailout feeling, and that sentiment reflected in Churchill’s adroit adage, “If you find yourself going through hell, keep on going.” It too will pass.
In my observation, Hollywood careers have been derailed before they began because a neophyte heeded the wisdom of a savvy industry player. Despite the achievements of the player, it doesn’t mean the call they make for you is right for you. The opportunity that knocks on a newcomer’s door came for that person and it is ultimately for that person to size up. It may not look like an opportunity to a veteran. Sure, take into account what the wiser and more experienced have to say. You bet, but to exercise the brave and ultimately true choice you’ve got to take the weight others give insider opinion and put it in the trash compacter sometimes.
Independent judgment arises from repeated exposure to making difficult decisions under pressure. Eventually you begin to realize the symptoms: info overload, being queasily at a loss, wanting to throw up your hands. You will realize, after a few times: here I am again, it’s time to go my own way.
Recently an article in the Times exonerated the egg and its consumption now has the blessing of medical science. Many moons ago when “Fit for Life” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond opened my eyes to a way of eating I took it all right to heart; a blistering indictment of eggs that reaches the apex of thundering eloquence remained with me as well, embodied by the image of an egg, fried, scrambled or boiled, forever rotting in my intestine and producing pestilential gases.
Over time I checked with myself and found that the day started fine with an egg or two. I felt energized and it didn’t weigh on my stomach. The egg got my own seal of approval years before medical science decided it was OK. Moreover, I went rogue on Harvey and Marilyn Diamond and was able to defy “Fit for Life’s” antipathy for eggs. The vision of fruits and veggies I embraced then as now. Possessing independent judgment grants the ability to be both devout and defiant. I scramble an egg now and then for breakfast or boil it. (The boiled egg, so tasty and rich in texture, is an underrated dish indeed). Basically, I went my own way.
The ability to exercise independent judgment is the fine fruit of experience and a seasoned outlook. It will be asked of you in nutrition, in investment, in what movie you want to see. You name it. Independent judgment bears on your priorities and your version of success and yours alone. How often our contentment and determination is eroded by not being able to rise above the gaggle of voices. Risking being wrong is the only way you can learn to be right.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: the Grady Diet,” available on Amazon.com. Reader views welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org.