CG #26 – Why Ignorance Trumps Certainty

“It could be that, or it could be something else”  is my new mantra.  Enlightenment awaits!

Word Count:  486

Reading Time:  About a minute

“Says You” is my favorite guilty pleasure.  I’ve long loved the witty wordplay and the contagious hilarity of this public radio show.  If you aren’t already a fan, you’re not just missing out on a diverting hour, you’re missing out on the best mantra ever for staying curious and open. (NOTE: Richard Sher, creator of “Says You,” is no longer hosting the show. His replacement does things differently, however each week they feature a segment with Richard, so you can get the mantra from him.)

Enlightenment from a game show?

Here’s the how it works:  The host reads a word no one has heard of and 2 of THE 3 team mates make up a definition; the third is given the real definition.  The other team tries to pick the correct definition.  But, just before that, and so casually you might miss it, the spiritual enlightenment begins:

“This week’s word is ‘flug.’  Francine, we’ll start with your definition.”

“Flug, a decorative border on wooden pitchers from the Roman Era.”

“A decorative border.  It could be that, or it could be something else.  Paula, what do you say?””

“A flug is a maneuver a pilot makes when air currents shift suddenly during take-off or landing.”

“A pilot maneuver.  It could be that, or it could be something else.  John?”

“Flug is the lint found deep in the pocket of a coat that is seldom worn or in a body part.”

“’Flug could be lint deep inside something, or it could be the decorative border on a Roman pitcher, or a pilot’s maneuver.”

“It could be that, or it could be something else.”

Those ten little words are the difference between staying open to all you don’t know and the steel clang of your mind choosing certainty.

Follow Your Ignorance to  New Level of Success

In his classic book, Process Consultation, Edgar Schein calls “following your ignorance” a cornerstone of successful consulting.  The ego hates this.   The ego prefers to be considered an expert.  But if you do the math, you reach the unavoidable conclusion:  What we know is a tiny speck of plankton in the vast ocean of our ignorance.

More Effortless, More Enjoyable Creativity

Might the fresh approach you and your client need be in that vast sea of the unknown, rather than in the way you’ve done it before?  Only you can say whether you are in the effortless sweet spot of mastery or about to enter the death spiral of stagnation.  Curiosity, creativity and hilarity love hanging out with ignorance, ecause ignorance knows how to:

— Stay unstuck.

— More effortlessly through life’s predictable cycles – product cycles, business cycles, family cycles.

— Let creativity gradually, the way a river stays fresh.

— Find the fun in uncertainty

“It could be that, or it could be something else” is a great way to access your ignorance  and get you splashing around in all you don’t know.   Why not make  a game of it and see where it takes you?

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