What You Know Ain’t Always So…

Mark Twain said this:

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

We are trained by our schooling to “know” the answers. We get rewarded for raising our hands, getting called upon and giving the answer out loud. By doing so, we receive admiration from the authorities, regard from our peers and we establish a pattern for life: answers are good.

As you get experience, you recognize that maybe you’ve been sold a bill of goods. We’ve been conditioned to be certain. We’ve been conditioned to build our action off the facts. But, as Twain says, what we reason and think is so, ain’t always the case.

It’s not easy to overcome this training we received in school. I fall victim to it frequently.

So, I’ve learned to adjust a bit. When I get feedback or information that is contrary to what I prefer to hear, I’ve learned it is wise to dig.

The guy who wants to provide the answers all the time wants to construct a story for himself and others that justifies his beliefs.

The one who is wise takes a pause, digs deeper, asks questions of others and tries to figure out if what he thinks is so, really is so.

Here’s what I found: it’s worth the effort. When digging, I discover things change. Facts change. Methods change. Information changes.

Just because I did the work and came to a good solution once, doesn’t mean the ideas and thoughts remain the same.

So, the larger the stakes, the bigger the decision, consider all the things you think you know for sure. And make sure you still do.



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Posted in: Communication, Improvement, Leadership

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