The Certainty TrapDec 28, 2022
We live in a world that appears to reward certainty.
“Confidence is belief in yourself. Certainty is belief in your beliefs.”—Kevin Ashton, How to Fly a Horse
You don’t have to look too long, hard, or far to witness powerful people prospering from certainty about things that are not absolutes or even accurate.
But there are real perils in being certain and over-confident.
I know that I was rewarded for knowing the “right” answers and “validating” my work in school.
Then I taught at some famous private schools where certainty abounds.
All to say, I became VERY skilled at closed-loop thinking and VERY comfortable with closing loops quickly.
Thankfully, life provided trials that disabused me of my many false certainties.
Although initially broken, I ended up broken open.
And being broken open also opened some loops.
And open loops require curiosity, consideration, creativity, courage, and practicing compassion from the inside out.
And practicing curiosity, consideration, creativity, courage, and compassion from the inside out daily cultivated confidence.
Confidence to let go of my false certainties and embrace not knowing while trusting and believing in myself and my ability to figure things out.
Fortunately, life also provided guides and fellow travelers who modeled and taught the virtues of a more expansive and curious approach to navigating uncertainty.
But default (even hard-wired) closed-loop programming still must be managed.
I use phrases like “People are fascinating” to avoid reactive value judgments about others and “Isn’t that interesting...?” to stop myself from leaping to conclusions about things.
What about you? How do you avoid the certainty trap?
Scott Perry, Encore Life Coach at The Art of Encore Living
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