As a teenager I admired definite views. It conveyed a sense of strength and power.

Democrat or Republican.

Pro-life or pro-choice.

Evolution or intelligent design.

Dodgers or Giants.

Wodka or Whisky.

Beef or Chicken.

Muslim or Christian.

You go with one side and you go to war. You against the other idiots who don’t get it. I’m the good guy. They are the bad guys.

Over the years I had to learn that certainty is a clear sign of stupidity.

If people are stuck in their definite views, they are afraid to think for themselves. They are also frightened that thinking might change their point view, the one thing that defined them. Suddenly, they have no opinion. And without a strong opinion, they are nothing more than an empty suit.

It’s a sign of intelligence and maturity when you proclaim to the world that you don’t know everything. It’s okay to ask for further explanations when you are confused. It’s okay to ask your client what acronym A stands for or what these numbers mean to them. Pretending to know everything is not a sign of strength. It’s a sign of severe weakness. You just keep your head down, mired in your own ignorance, hoping everybody still thinks you’re smart. Unfortunately, that’s a common, human trait.

That’s why people write blog posts about things they don’t really understand, using words they don’t get. At least, they impressed their own ego.

That’s why we work through RFP’s that we don’t comprehend. But we’re frightened to ask the client for further explanations: “They might think we don’t get them.” Well, you don’t. And that’s why you complain about them later when you don’t win the pitch or the onboarding turns into Chinese water torture.

One thing I learned in school.

I was lucky to visit a school that was run by teachers infected by 60’s virus. Their mantra was: Question everything, man.

Ok, you can cut out the “man” but the other two words are powerful: Question everything.

Question research. The majority is flawed.

Question known facts. They are often known lies.

Question common knowledge. More often than not, it’s common stupidity.

And, please question any brief or complex task. You owe it to you and your clients. If you don’t understand it 100%, you have no chance of succeeding. Don’t be afraid to look dumb/lose client’s respect/lose the account/lose your livelihood/live in a trailer/roam the streets homeless.

Just be afraid to stay stupid.

In contemplation, if a man begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts: but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. (Bacon)

Question everything.