Gladwell was arguing for the “broken windows” theory, which in a nutshell says that cracking down on petty crime and keeping up a neighborhood’s appearance prevent bigger crimes. Levitt, author of the bestseller Freakonomics, argued that other factors, including the legalization of abortion, had put the real damper on crime by limiting the number of people born into poverty.
But Gladwell realized that, if he made his case clearly and rationally enough, Levitt might change his mind.
Leaders have the humility to go where logic and discovery take them. They consider all the evidence, even if it’s uncomfortable, before deciding.
Lesson: It takes courage to remain that open-minded, and even more courage to change your mind. But that’s what leaders do.
—Adapted from “Steven Levitt: Thinking Way, Way Outside the Box,” Malcolm Gladwell, Time.