I met with someone recently who’s a self-described contrarian. Contrarians go against popular beliefs, so I was curious to hear his views. As we chatted, I realized he takes the opposite side on most topics. He doesn’t have a strong belief in his positions; rather, he strongly values doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
Being contrarian—in a positive way—isn’t about doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing for the sake of being different. Just because everyone isn’t jumping off a bridge, that doesn’t mean you should.
The contrarians I admire go deeper. They understand what others are doing, but they don’t stop there. They try to understand why others are doing what they’re doing. Then they develop an informed position on what’s wrong with the action others are taking (i.e., why it’s incorrect). Then they figure out if there’s a better way. If they find a better way, they take that path, and they have conviction about their position because of the process they’ve followed, as just described.