Guest Post: Mind Wide Shut

I discovered Bayalis is The Answer a couple months ago when the author, Mrs. BITA started leaving hilarious comments on my posts. Curious, I clicked over and read some of Mrs. BITA’s posts. I immediately appreciated her honesty and profanity. My favorite writers are those that write in such a way that their personality shines though. Mrs. BITA has no shortage of strong personality, so I asked her if she’d like to write a guest post. She agreed, so I’ll shut up now and turn the show over to her.

Mind Wide Shut

The next person who tells me that I need to “keep an open mind” is going to fucking live to rue the day.

My mind is an exclusive club. You need to be on The List to enter. There is a bouncer of intimidating proportions at the door (and the fact that he is wearing an Ascot hat and can actually pull that shit off only serves to make him more intimidating).

A week ago a twit who labours under the delusion that he is an engineer sent me some of his code to review. Two hours after the original request he sent a follow up email reminding me and everyone in my management chain that getting this done is of the highest priority. I interrupted what I was doing, and like a good little worker bee, I jumped right on it. I waded through a few gadzillion lines of incomprehensible code changes. The blood vessel in my forehead started to pulse ominously. I then discovered that he hadn’t actually tested the fucking code before he sent it out (for the engineers out there – a null pointer dereference in a common code path). Puffed up with self righteous indignation I pointed out to my manager that the twit needs to keep his hands where we can see them and not on our product. His response?

“You need to keep an open mind, Mrs. BITA. People learn from their mistakes and grow.”

No thank you, Mr. Manager. The aforementioned idiot is not a fresh-faced intern, from whom a charming amount of idiocy is only to be expected. He has about four years of experience. The only thing that is going to grow here is the size of my ulcer if you force me to keep dealing with him as if he were a worthy development engineer.

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” says Terry Pratchett, one of my favourite authors. And most of the time the things they will try to put in it are pure unadulterated garbage.

 

What an Open Mind is Not

Keeping an open mind is oft extolled as a virtue. It is peddled as the means to personal growth. It is the gateway drug that will enable to you understand other people and appreciate other cultures. It will prevent you from being inflexible, unable to evolve and therefore doomed to failure. And there is wisdom in this.

BUT

In recent years it feels as if “keep an open mind” has become synonymous with “every opinion is valid” (nope, they are not).

An Open Mind is not quite the same thing as a dumping ground for any old idea that comes sauntering down the street.

An Open Mind is not one that gets all cozy with every passing opinion.

An Open Mind is not an excuse for an uninformed opinion.

An Open Mind is not an excuse for sitting on the fence and not ever taking a stand.

An Open Mind is not a Thought Slut.

Aristotle, bless his soul, said it better than I ever could, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  So the next time you’re assaulted by a new idea, feel free to respond thus.

I know that this is sometimes easier said than done. I was brought up not to question authority. Over the years it was drilled into me to listen to my elders and my betters (with heavy emphasis on the elder bit). And by listen they meant believe. Absorb without question. Even now, when someone in a position of authority asks me to jump, I have to wrestle with my Pavlovian response to respond with “How high?”.

I know better now. And if I know better, I can do better. “My name is Mrs. BITA. And I am not a Sponge”. It is not my job to absorb and assimilate everything. Rather, it is my job to question, to evaluate, to understand, to criticize, and then, in a few cases, to accept into my mind a nugget that will make me a better person. Or a brighter person. And on rare and special occasions, even both. I try to keep my mind wide shut.

 

And pray what, if anything, does this have to do with FIRE?

If you are a fan of this blog, it is for one of a few possible reasons. You have an obsession, bordering on the unhealthy, with prehistoric reptiles of gigantic proportions and Komodo dragons. You can’t get enough of Mr. 1500 in his mask (have you seen anyone about this? You really should). Or, like me, you are aspiring to a life of financial independence and early retirement (FIRE).

If you are a FIRE aspirant, your goal is a pile of FU money that you will guard and gloat over like a self-respecting dragon.

And, as any self-respecting dragon is aware, your treasure will constantly be under attack by pompous, pesky knights in shining armour and tricksy hobbits.

These knights will attack you with:

  • “Your SWR isn’t safe at all. You will run out of money and die penniless and alone.”
  • “The stock market is about to crash! Panic in the streets! Sell and stuff your mattress!”
  • “This time it is different.”
  • “The apocalypse is nigh! My friend has a friend who saw the four horsemen last night. Sell and stuff your mattress!”
  • “If everybody starts investing in index funds, you are all going to be screwed. Sell and stuff your mattress!”
  • A lance

 

For all attacks but the lance, guess what your best defense is? A mind that is firmly, tightly shut. For the lance I recommend breathing fire (FIRE?) all over that asshole knight’s face.

In the context of FIRE there is an inverse relationship between the openness of your mind and the size of your FU Stash.

FU money vs open mindedness.png

Aspiring to financial independence can be extremely rewarding (achieving it, I imagine, even more so). It can be a lonely path though, and it certainly is a controversial one. If you are a traveler on the long road to a life of financial independence, set your compass, make up your mind and then close it to all comers.

 

Be a Good Dragon. Guard your Stash.

Be Curious. But Curate.

Keep your mind wide shut.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.

*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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52 Responses to Guest Post: Mind Wide Shut

  1. I am a huge fan of Mrs. BITA!!! I love the personality that shines through in her writing especially the comical bent 🙂 I definitely agree that people can be too open minded at times and it gets them in a world of trouble b/c they don’t do any critical thinking for themselves. I understand being a good solider but you also need to be able to think critically and discern if you ever want to be a general. Great stuff as always!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Where to Store Your Down Payment MoneyMy Profile

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Thanks MSM! You are one of the earliest people who ever commented on my blog, at a time when I had fewer readers than there are hairs on Patrick Stewart’s head, and that is much appreciated.

  2. Great stuff, hilarious. I haven’t heard at work keep an open mind. What I constantly hear is lower my expectations. No I will not lower my expectations,you need to learn to deliver a better product. But I digress.

    Im usually the one pushing the open mind buttons at work. Primarily because my job is to change people’s jobs, you might call me Bob (not so subtle office space reference). But I agree, while you should be open to new ideas, you should not let those new ideas change your financial plans dramatically. The largest sign of success in the financial world is having a plan and sticking to it. Changing with the winds is a recipe for disaster.
    FullTimeFinance recently posted…Game Theory and Personal FinanceMy Profile

  3. That was a great article. Be curious but curate.

    Usually when someone tells me to keep an open mind, what they really mean is that I should take their narrative at face value without questioning.

    Perhaps that is where the low information diet concept by Tim Ferriss comes in handy

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      A low information diet sounds perfect – less sensationalist news, less Facebook and fewer meetings at work. Sounds like a slice of heaven with a cherry on top.

  4. Great article. Very fresh perspective. You’re absolutely right in that those that want you to keep an open mind really just want you to adopt their way of thinking.

    There can be a fine line between challenging everything you are told and just falling in line and blindly following. A healthy amount of skepticism is a good thing as well is understanding where others are coming from. Sometimes their ideas will be full of crap. Other times there is some merit that will get you to think about a topic in a different light.
    Go Finance Yourself! recently posted…Live a Longer Life With PurposeMy Profile

  5. MRS BITA!!! Great to see you hanging with the 1500’s.

    One tip: You should keep an open mind. Wink.

    Great post, congrats on getting to guest post with the Rockstars!

  6. OthalaFehu says:

    Well Mr. 1500, you already had me, but Mrs. BITA just picked up a new follower. I love ‘Thought Slut’ and cards on table, will probably steal it.

    Slowly realizing you have acquired wisdom is my favorite part of growing older.

  7. I also signed up for Mrs. BITAs blog because of her comments. Very smart and funny gal.
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…Living Outside the BoxMy Profile

  8. Team CF says:

    Thanks for making my day, we owe you a beer when you ever get to the Netherlands!
    Team CF recently posted…February 2017 Cheesy IndexMy Profile

  9. Mrs BITA, I wish I had the skill to curse like you. Such eloquently and well placed fucks, and with a great message too!

  10. Feisty post; I like it! The bouncer analogy is great. My mind is open for business, but you’ll have to pass through the logical reasoning security screening and the skepticism bouncer before entering. And, sorry, MLM schemes and stock tips are on the blacklist.
    Matt @ The Resume Gap recently posted…How Much Does Van Life Cost? – Volume IIMy Profile

  11. Ashley says:

    This misrepresentation of open-mindedness is a huge issue. I am reminded of a college course I taught last semester where I got one or two poor reviews on my “bedside manner.” I looked over my comments (it was an online class, so I had them all saved and could separate them from the students’ work), then ran them by several non-scientists as this was not a course for majors). The feedback I got? Basically, that it was probably pissing students off when I challenged their opinions and asked for evidence.

    Many people think that if they start an idea with “I think,” or “I believe,” or “My experience is,” their opinion is untouchable.

    It’s not.

    • SpacemanFry says:

      Exactly! Actually being open minded isn’t the issue. Being open-minded should be something everyone should strive to be. However, that doesn’t mean accepting everything.

      The problem is a whole lot of terms and concepts that used to mean one thing have been co-opted and distorted in meaning to the point of absurdity. Now they are used to actually thwart the very ideas they originally meant.

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Yep. Anecdotal evidence isn’t actually evidence and what you do or don’t believe doesn’t change the facts.

  12. Looks like I just found another blog to add to my RSS feed. I really enjoy your writing style, it is very engaging and entertaining, but I reject all of your ideas and thoughts (just trying to keep my mind wide shut 😉 )

    But seriously, going to go check your blog out right now.

    Cheers
    Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy recently posted…February 2017 – Detailed Financial Report #26 – Net Worth $532,590 | Income $23,893My Profile

  13. Ning says:

    great post! I am jumping over to Mrs. BITA’s blog right now. And yes, an open mind is not an excuse for unsubstantiated uninformed believes in alternative facts or a dumping ground for excuses

  14. Mrs. BITA says:

    I feel like the parish priest invited to say mass at the Sistine Chapel. But with more cursing.

    Thank you for hosting me Mr. 1500. It is an absolute pleasure to be hanging out here, on a blog that has afforded me hours of happy reading, and a great many laughs. And dinosaurs.
    Mrs. BITA recently posted…The Quirks of Being Middle Class Indian (and how it benefits my wallet)My Profile

  15. Brian says:

    Could we have a dino vs. dragon battle? 🙂 Great post. I believe the Thought Slut is the kissing cousin of Mrs. Groovy’s Opportunity Slut. Maybe they have the same pimp.
    Brian recently posted…Mo Money, No ProblemsMy Profile

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      It wouldn’t be a battle, it would be a massacre. The dragons would, obviously, triumph. The one disadvantage they have is the fact that they don’t exist, but they have never let that stop them before.

  16. Hee hee hee, I enjoy the profane posts the most. Excellent piece, Mrs. BITA! This is a good point. A lot of things can derail you in life, and outside opinions are one of them. People love to talk about things they know nothing about, particularly if it concerns what another person SHOULD do. My approach is “You do you.”
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…6 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax RefundMy Profile

  17. I was an early follower of Mrs. BITA and this is why! Keeping my mind wide shut has pissed off everyone I work with right now. But I never could put a name to it. Thanks for the smile today!

  18. Professional Engineer Steve from Arkansas says:

    Great post….. But, programmers and computer science people are NOT engineers. Only BS graduates from accredited universities in disciplines eligible to obtain a professional engineering license are engineers. Plus people that drive trains. All those computer geeks that write code, not engineers. Wannabes yes, real engineers no. Somehow millennials have corrupted our definition to include anyone who does anything technical with computing.

  19. Christina says:

    Right it’s the demand for ‘open mind’ usually comes the need for ‘fresh start’ – predictors for unchangeable, very poor performance

  20. LadyFIRE says:

    Welp, I’ve found my new favourite blogger!

    And I now have a really strong craving to play D&D. It’s only mildly related, it has dragons and it’s a cheap hobby, so it’s kind of related to FIRE, right?
    LadyFIRE recently posted…How the Pink Tax is ruining your financesMy Profile

  21. Hehe, funny guest post Mrs. BITA and a great message too!

    Unfortunately I don’t have an open mind either…my mind is locked shut by the chains of logic, the padlock of mathematics, and the super glue of a snarky attitude…

    But I am getting better at suffering fools as life goes on. 🙂
    Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes recently posted…When Dividend Growers Fail To GrowMy Profile

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      : )

      I’m getting better too. I mean, my focal review last year barely touched on my attitude. Just a teensy weensy paragraph. In past years reams of paper have been devoted to the subject.

  22. BITA — please consider starting a consultancy that would specialize in giving honest but slightly degrading feedback to underperforming / dumbass worker bees.
    Rich @ pennyandrich.com recently posted…Monthly Happiness Report: Rich Increases His Brain Waves By 0.0125 In March 2017My Profile

  23. ambertree says:

    Interesting guest post. Heading over to the blog now…
    I hope to keep my mind shut

  24. Mr. SSC says:

    Great post as always! I think the shared love of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett started me on my following Mrs. BITA’s blog. It’s always good reading and she can explain things pretty easily so that even I can follow along, lol.

    I’ve never been told to keep an open mind at work, but then most of my work involves trying to sell somebody on an idea most of the day. That kind of phrase fits in with “trust me…” and gets you a nice healthy scratch on getting approval to do anything. 🙂
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Saving Money Isn’t Always Worth ItMy Profile

    • Mrs. BITA says:

      Us hitchhiker fan boys have got to stick together : ) As if I wasn’t already grateful enough to those authors – now I have them to thank for you deciding to give my blog a go.

  25. Super post Mrs. BITA. Thanks for the chuckle, so coincidental I read this today after an exhausting meeting with a guy who thinks with his posterior orifice. I particularly seem to be surrounded by people whose inflated sense of self-competence is only outsized by their misplaced swagger.
    Ten Factorial Rocks recently posted…Three Actionable Personal Finance Tips for Millennials in 2017My Profile

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