Advocating Uncertainty

There is a gap between knowing and understanding, just as there is between understanding and doing (well).  These gaps are reduced through experiential effort.  But there is a view that you can avoid the effort by strenuous advocacy of your current position:

“There is nothing left for me to learn.”  “I am already a good driver/lawyer/photographer …”  “I can’t see the point of more practice.”  “You just don’t understand things as well as I do.”  “With respect, you are completely wrong about that.”  “You don’t know what you’re talking about.  Just listen to what I have to say.”

And so it goes.  The words go round and around and around, without moving anywhere, without making any progress.  There is more effort expended on defending the status quo than effort expended on transcending the status quo.  You might think that this reflects certainty and conviction – after all, aren’t those who speak the loudest those that are most convinced of their statements?  In fact, there is evidence that the opposite is true.

Strenuous advocacy can be a reflection of personal uncertainty.  In these circumstances, such ‘shouting’ is designed to reduce doubts – a sort of “I must be right because I am stressing my ‘rightness’ so forcefully.”  Trying to reduce your doubts by committing more strongly to that which you doubt has an even stronger influence on those topics/skills/behaviours that you deem more important.  If it’s more important to you, you’ll ‘shout’ more often and more loudly.

And we wonder why politicians shout at one another.

There will be many occasions in your learning journey where you might feel like ‘shouting’.  Circumstances, the behaviour of other people or the need to ‘win’ in the short term can all combine in ways that make one reaction apparently inevitable – you know you make me wanna shout:

Regardless of the circumstances, you always have a choice of whether to shout or not.  There will be times, many times, when you are unsure about how to proceed but this is an inherent quality of exploration.  And the journey is about exploration, not arrival at a pre-determined destination.

Shouting’ is a way to reduce your doubts by entrenching your current position.  You ‘shout’ because your eyes, ears and mind are closed.  ‘Shouting’ is the antithesis of learning – embrace the uncertainties and work your way through them rather than ‘shout’ as a way of convincing yourself that they do not exist.

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