suspending judgement

Suspend Your Judgement

“To become good at anything you have to know how to apply basic principles. To become great at it, you have to know when to violate those principles” – Garry Kasparov

Thinking outside the box requires a special technique called epoché – a suspension of judgement before you act.

We are often subjected to various forms of entertainment throughout the day.  I find it odd that we are often the ones being entertained however, as we receive various emotional and visceral reactions to the stimuli around us.

How do we take charge, reverse the roles, and become the entertainer in our own lives?  How do we become the master and entertain the ideas or circumstances that are presented to us?

The truth is, we can tease out a good idea from a contextual situation with the maturity, substance, and panache if we do it correctly.

Suspending judgement, known as epoché, was derived from ancient Greek philosophers.  Epoché is a way to come up with deeper solution to a burning question or situation.  This idea of suspended judgement comes up throughout the history of philosophy and undoubtedly is a powerful tool for critical thinking.

suspending judgement

I noticed this principle come to the forefront when playing a game of chess, I suspended my judgement on a move I was about to make – and asked “what else?”

“What am I not seeing?  Is there another way to look at this?” I challenged my brain to entertain the thought, idea, or context of the situation I was presented with – the game board – I suspended for moment and then I acted – creating a check mate I did not originally see.

Don’t let the final act fool you.  The anticipation can entice you down the wrong road if you are not paying attention.  Remember, you have the power to think critically in that little minuscule place between presentation and action – use it!



What’s Microcosms Got to Do with It?

“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost.”
― Nassim Taleb

I’ve been really working on my own personal health and wellness.  After a year of working diligently on other aspects of my life, I’ve finally realized that this work has come at the cost of my own well-being.  That motivated me to jump back into my own health and wellness journey, especially after I took a quick diagnostic by measuring my body weight and my body composition.

I realized I had hit my own personal rock bottom, where my body weight and body composition resembled that of a an offensive lineman.  I was a few pizzas away from reclaiming an obtuse appellative.

In lieu of that I knew I had to step in and take things off auto-pilot in an authoritarian kind of way.  So I started to meal prep in a big way and control my calorie intake, which has brought about small changes to my psyche and my latent energy levels.  Now that I’m eating healthier, and eating less.  I feel as though I have more clarity, I’m calmer, and my frenetic pace has slowed.

Fitting a Square Peg in a Round Hole

Despite the calm, I found myself amidst another chaotic week.  I was prepping my meals in the morning before I had to run out the door.  This constituted stuffing prepared food into various Tupperwares.  If your Tupperware drawer resembles mine, you’ll know that it’s a game of mix and match, and sometimes the pieces don’t match well at all.  And, when in a rush, this can be incredibly frustrating.

I tried to jam the lids on a few times before realizing they weren’t a match.  I stopped and thought, “easy … quit trying to fit a square peg in a round hole!”  A simple lesson, we’ve all heard it, and, in that moment, that lesson got the best of me in a subtle manner.

Making it Bigger – Fractals

But is that really it?  Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is a lesson that I’ve also been working with and dealing with since the day I retired from football, and arguably even before that.  I’ve followed my heart and I am doing exactly the right thing for me, but along the way I’ve always wondered, “is this the right thing?” and more literally, “am I trying to fit a square peg in a round hole?”


This lesson is much bigger than in those tiny moments, and at the same time it’s much smaller than in those big moments.  Nassim Taleb talks about fractals in his book “The Black Swan”.  Fractals are geometric patterns that scale up and scale down while resembling that of the greater or smaller.  We see this in nature when we observe leaves that resemble the shape of a whole tree, or even a broccoli crown that’s being cut into smaller pieces.

Expansive as It Is …

In lieu of this insight, I began to wonder how much meaning could be extracted and distilled out of everyday events and experiences?  Especially if stuffing the wrong Tupperware lid on in a moment of mindless chaos could be likened to choosing the right career path.

This gives way to a brilliance in our world, a world that is filled with bewilderment, serendipity, and intrigue.  The signs are all around us, and all we have to do is slow down to pay attention.  Too often we seek answers from alternative sources, but all too often we have the answers within ourselves – right in front of us, each and every day, we just need to observe.

I can’t help but be filled with gratitude for the ability to extract meaning like this and apply the lessons and experiences to a greater framework.  To acknowledge and say “yup, there it is again!”.  And as I learn more, I build this framework, my experiences of this world continue to grow in a holistic and wonderfully integrated sense.

Paying Attention

A big question to ask yourself is if you are suffering the consequences in the short-term by not paying attention to things in your everyday life.  Is there a lesson for you that could serve you in a bigger sense?

Remember, our answers are available to us right here and right now – if we choose to be attentive and reflective.  But if we are caught up in the chaos, we can miss out on things for months, or even years.  Mindfulness practice comes into play here (notice I said into play).  Seek insight and wisdom from moments that are monotonous or frustrating.  Look for moments filled with emotion, or ones that are empty.  This is a good place to start.  Ask yourself, what can I learn here, and how does this apply to me?

Building an inquisitive nature can be extremely rewarding, and you will be surprised with what you find as you continue to extract ideas on a moment by moment basis.   So create time to be more mindful and relaxed, so you can enjoy and learn from all the amazing things around you!