Don’t Confuse Me with the Facts

    Mark Twain said, “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.”
    What? When does knowledge get in the way of success?
    Well, obviously, Twain as a satirist, wasn’t speaking of real and/or complete knowledge on any given subject. He was talking about having confidence and not knowing the things that might keep you from launching out into an endeavor, as well as thinking that you know so much that you are unable to learn what you will need to be successful in that venture.
    Knowledge gets in the way of growth, learning and success when we think we know it all and approach issues, discussions, and decision-making with our minds made up. That’s being opinionated…your opinions are strong and never in doubt. But being opinionated is a form of arrogance and it keeps a lot of people from accomplishing a lot of things. It also gets in the way of positive influence on others. We actually tend to write off the views of opinionated people.
    Being opinionated is a family trait of mine. Not my immediate family: my wife isn’t that way, nor are my kids. But I grew up that way. In college, friends would joke, “Ziegler has no trouble entering into a subject of which he hasn’t studied and still sound like an expert.” Hahaha! Well, actually, it’s not that funny. When I get with extended family, it really annoys me to hear relatives talk like they know so much about things that they are guessing about. It wasn’t a good trait of mine when I was younger, and I have to keep battling it today.
    The Book of Proverbs has helped me a lot. Solomon continually compares the wise man with the foolish man. The essential difference between the two is that the wise man realizes how little he really knows and so is always learning. The foolish man thinks he knows it all so his mind is made up and you can’t teach him anything. When I came to understand that, I thought, “I want to keep learning. I’d better come to terms with how little I really know.” Today, at 51, I try to say things like, “I believe…,” or, “I think…,” or, “It seems…” or, “I might be wrong about this, but…” 
    I still have my mind made up about a lot of things, but I learned a long time ago that with many of those things, I wind up being wrong. So the best approach is to realizes that while I have an opinion, it may not be accurate. I may have been misled, I might be jumping to conclusions, I might not have all the facts right, and I’ve always got a lot more to learn.
    Are you able to keep learning and growing because you have the humility to admit that you don’t already know it all? Or is your mind all made up, unwilling to be confused with additional facts, or rattled by considering an opposing view?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply