Doubt and Certainty
Blog Written by Jim Stovall
I believe that we achieve a healthy balance in our personal and professional lives when we have a curious spirit and question everything while gaining all the knowledge possible and applying it in the form of wisdom. As we achieve more understanding and awareness, we possess knowledge and are constantly in a state of knowing more than we have ever known, but this knowledge comes with a fascinating byproduct which is the growing awareness of the things we don’t know.
Voltaire said, “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.”
Here in the 21st century, we achieve success and build wealth by creating value in the lives of
others. Most often, the value we provide is something we know as opposed to something we do. Even people who succeed in providing services, at some point on their success ladder, stop providing the service directly and train others to do it so their efforts are multiplied.
Ideally, we should always be in the position of being aware of what we know and having an awareness that there are many things we don’t know. It’s perfectly acceptable and even natural to not know many things, but an awareness of this ignorance is imperative. The most dangerous people I have ever met don’t know what they don’t know. These individuals assume they know everything which, of course, is impossible. Even if someone is a world-renowned expert and knows more about their field than anyone else, in order to succeed, they must be aware that there are many things yet to be known.
There was a time when Orville and Wilbur Wright probably knew more about aviation than anyone in the world, but if they could get a glimpse of 21st century air travel, they would immediately become aware that there was much they didn’t know.
Gandhi said, “Every person is my superior in that I can learn something from them.” Even the most naïve or ignorant person you ever meet can teach you something if only that you don’t want to be naïve and ignorant. The people who make discoveries, breakthroughs, and creative quantum leaps are those who approach every day assuming there is something waiting to be known, understood, and mastered.
The legendary filmmaker Frank Capra said, “Don’t follow trends. Start them.” In our fast-paced, technological world, it is a mistake to pursue the state-of-the-art because by the time you get there, it will have moved ahead leaving you obsolete. This was best illustrated by Wayne Gretzky the great hockey star who said, “Don’t skate to where the puck is. Skate to where it will be.”
Release your dreams, imagine the world in which you want to live, and move toward it.
As you go through your day today, know all that you can, and embrace the fact there is much yet to know.
Today’s the day!