Recently, when working on our book, I bumped into a thought that I can’t seem to get around:
OUR VOCABULARIES NEED AN OVERHAUL.
About 18,000 words into the book, I realized I was struggling to find words that capture individuals who are comfortable with changing their minds and refraining from jumping to conclusions. Rummaging through my thesaurus felt like staring at a refrigerator stocked with only a bottle of mustard and a packet of barbecue sauce.
Here are the words we use to describe people who change their minds easily: vacillating, fickle, wavering, capricious, inconsistent, indecisive, irresolute, faltering, unsteady, flighty, lubricious, fitful, erratic, flip-flopping, wishy-washy, yo-yo
Now take a look at the antonyms: certain, steady, stable, reliable, consistent, constant, steadfast, faithful, resolute, unyielding, firm, solid, dependable, loyal, trusty, a rock
The second list looks powerful, the first looks flimsy and shameful. If the two lists were cafeteria tables, you wouldn’t even perch your tray at the first one.
But in our increasingly complicated world, the ability to keep an open-mind, tolerate ambiguity, and change our opinions is vital. And those of who cling to beliefs and habits are going to get left behind.
So here’s my proposal: let’s overhaul our vocabularies to fit the needs and values of our world.
To describe people who are willing to change their minds, I suggest: free-thinking, flexible, elastic, adaptable, open-minded, broad-minded, wise, sensible, patient, aware, conscious, tolerant, reasonable, fair, equitable, understanding, thoughtful (+ Melissa Kessler just emailed me with these: fluid thinker, present, risk taker, leader, not afraid to take a plunge, heightened awareness, keen, sensitive)
And for the folks who see change as a dirty word, I offer: rigid, closed-minded, narrow-minded, pig-headed, mulish, obdurate, stubborn, stiff, stuck, fixed, jammed, trapped, entombed (and from Melissa: static, concrete, safe, follower, self righteous)
What do you say? Have I missed any words that resonate with you? What words do you use to describe your relationship with change?