By Dr. Michael De Vito


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“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. Its what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
-Mark Twain



It seems a major sin of our culture is to appear to not know something. The Internet and search engines like Google have made the skill of instant access of obscure facts rather universal and thus of little value. Answers to questions of facts-known are readily available to us all and free for the asking. Any kid in Benghazi with a smart phone can “know” the pitching stats of the ’68 Yankees. So what?

Since this instant access to definitive knowledge is so universal, it appears we have developed a keen sense of when something is not known, a piece is missing…and we can’t stand it! So far what I’ve said is not a problem…. the problem comes from what we tend to do with this ability to sense a lack of information. Too many of us see the missing piece as a problem, rather than the opportunity it really is. They will endeavor to fill the perceived void….immediately. Going forward with the uncertainty is not an option. We grab the nearest well-connected device and Google our way to a rapid solution to our angst, we display our ability to solve this problem, our world is again whole and we are again at peace knowing ALL. Yea us.

This conceited badge of awareness is at best delusional….worse, I see it as enslaving.

If we believe that being able to work a keyboard represents knowledge and intellect, if we relax in the false confidence that access to facts suggests we know something, then we are enslaving ourselves with a self-imposed complacency. It is this falsely confirmed comfort that allows us to settle in where we are and stop striving for better; a better world, a better life. Just look at the mess this world is still in….and everyone (almost) has access to the same Internet chock full of facts. So many facts are available that filtering the tsunami of information is a monumental task all it’s own. A task few have the skills to face….so every fact appears of equal and unquestioned value.

There is a thinking deficiency, not a fact deficiency.

The opportunity I mentioned actually comes when we train ourselves to be comfortable with the UN-known. And the bigger the unknown the better. We must train ourselves NOT to view life and knowledge as a jigsaw puzzle with defined edges……LOOK, a piece is missing, found it…..done. Truth is, there are no edges…and it is beyond what seems to be the edge where we find the freedom to think, to form visions, to allow our imagination to really create.

Richard Feynman, the Nobel prize winning Physicist, calls this “Humility of intellect”. To me this is the flip side of arrogance. We need to be careful not to overvalue what we know. Access to facts does not make us wise, it’s how we use facts to manage our world and our choices that really helps us.

Certainty is confining, doubt and acknowledging the unknown lead to the openness of possibility. Keep this in mind as you work on your 20/20 goals and values….you can’t fill a void until you create one. Give the creation of voids in your future the same attention that you give the tangible “answers”.

Every minute of our existence is the unfolding of unknowns. Being able to deal with uncertainty, the unknown, is a much more valuable skill than simply knowing a fact.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”.   

                                                          – Unknown