Being careful with certainty

hands working buttons on watch

I have spoken about being a graceful beginner before. That no matter how experienced you become at something, having the grace and humility to know there is always more to learn. That those learnings can come from any direction.

Certainty is one of the biggest blockers to this stance. In my view of how the world works, I am not sure if we can actually be certain of anything. We live in a creative universe, things are in constant flux and things change all the time. Perhaps that is the only thing we can be certain of.

If we put this into the context of your work, especially if you are now 15-20 years in to your career as I am, and have probably experienced the majority of flavours your industry has to offer, you may begin to feel certain about what you know. This is obviously not a bad thing, it important to be confident in your knowledge and experience, but not at the risk of thinking you now know all there is to know. To not be willing to learn from those less experienced than you, or from a different field than you, or just from a random stranger on the tram stifles your growth in your mastery.

Certainty can be one of the greatest risks to open mindedness and lead to ignorance. When you are sure you know all you need to know about a topic, new information about that topic doesn’t have a chance to establish itself in your mind.

Sometimes new knowledge requires us to expand our belief system and certainty in your current reality can act like the refusal to do so.

Our past experiences act as evidence for the thing we are so certain about. We may have been in exactly this situation before and feel certain we know how it is going to pan out. Though when we are creating new realities, we are creating new experiences that have not existed yet. So why do we think our experience from a different time and context is exactly what will happen again, in a different time and context? We shouldn’t, and in my experience, it never does.

Our previous experiences are most useful for learning lessons and growing in wisdom. And the acquisition of wisdom requires we stay open to new knowledge, new experiences, thoughts and emotions.

To continuously evolve yourself within your chosen domain, you must be willing to remain open, to learn, learn, learn, and to believe that you really don’t know anything for certain about how things are going to pan out. And this is ok, in fact, when you are in the business of creation, it is exactly where you should be.