Reserve Judgements

Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” begins with its narrator, Nick Carraway, recounting his father’s admonition that not everyone in the world is provided the same advantages. The comment led to Nick’s inclination to “reserve all judgments,” a “habit that…opened up many curious natures” to him.

This opening passage of “Gatsby” has shaped me dramatically. Amid growing up in an environment of clear rights and wrongs, these words were a reminder to delay judgment in order to better understand people, even those who are objectively well outside my behavioral beliefs.

Given the importance of suspending judgment in the early stages of originating new ideas, this practice has been fundamental to helping businesses imagine new possibilities for potential opportunities. There’s a time for judgment, but initially, ideas have to emerge and “breathe” first.

It isn’t all glorious, however, when you reserve judgments. As Nick notes, it led to him being “the victim of not a few veteran bores.” I’ve certainly found that to be the case. It’s also led to having a diverse set of friends (really fun) who at times can’t stand one another (not so fun). Their distinct differences, which I tend to overlook, often make them incompatible.

In all, delaying judgments is a beneficial practice. So what do you think? Are there a few situations in your life right now where you’d be better off to suspend judgment and see how they play out first? The interesting things you’ll experience and learn will FAR outweigh any bores you might encounter. Just go with me on this – okay?

BTW – Want a little “fun” with “The Great Gatsby”? Watch this video of Andy Kaufman trying to read the book to a reluctant audience. You can skip ahead to 2:40 to hear the passage that inspired this post!


Mike BrownMike Brown is an award-winning marketer and strategist with extensive experience in research, strategy, branding, and sponsorship marketing. He’s a frequent keynote presenter on innovation and authors Brainzooming!

Mike Brown

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