What’s the difference between knowing and guessing? This might be something that’s useful for you today because it’s really useful for me. I’ve been a big know-it-all most of my life. I know what’s going to happen.
When I do this, she’s going to say that. I know how this job interview’s going to go. I know how the election’s going to go. I often tried to act like I knew things I didn’t know because I wanted people to think I knew things I didn’t know. I wanted to come off as worth respecting and even feared.
Yet, this gets us into trouble in our lives lots of times and we keep doing it anyway. The difference between knowing and guessing might seem small but it’s a huge difference. When you say I know exactly what happened yesterday, do you know exactly what happened? At first you might think you know exactly what happened.
In class a kid asked me when’s the last time I got my tires changed and I gave him as close of an exact estimate as I could. How honest was that? How could I tell exactly when I got my tires changed last? I could guess, but I didn’t know the exact date. I always was out to impress people. The difference between knowing the exact date and knowing roughly makes a huge difference.
For example, if you know the stock market is going to go up, do you know exactly what stock is going to go up? What time will it go up? How likely is that to be correct? You can see the more you try to act like you know, the more specific you get, the more inaccurate it becomes.
The same works with the past also. If you try to tell me what you did yesterday, you could tell me pretty well what you did. I could say what’s the most interesting thing you did yesterday. You could say you went to the store or some other various account from your day. If I asked you to be more specific like what exact time did you go to the store, you would say you went around noon. You can see the inexact nature of anything that doesn’t exist right this moment. If it isn’t taking place right this moment and I could stop my Xbox and show you that it’s exactly this time right now.
Even then you could say that your clock says something else if you’re in a different time zone. There’s a world of difference between guessing that something’s going to happen. There’s a huge difference in guessing someone else’s response when you say something.
The difference between guessing and knowing is the difference between being open to learning and being closed. It’s thinking you know it all so there’s nothing that can be learned. It’s a difference that I’ve experienced first-hand. For example, I don’t know if you’re going to like this post or not. You might hate this post and think it’s the dumbest post you ever read. You might love it and think it’s the best think you’ve ever read. It’s possible that someone out there will have both of those feelings.
I’ve made hundreds of posts and thousands of you said you love them, but I don’t know how you’ll respond to this. That leaves me working in a lot of uncertainty.
For most of us, uncertainty is uncomfortable. Most of us work hard to avoid uncertainty in our lives. Seeing the difference between knowing and guessing helps me see that I guess everything in my life. I have almost no certainty about anything even the important things like where’s your wife right now? I don’t know exactly where my wife is. She’s at the beach hanging out with her family today. I don’t know exactly where she is right now. That is the level of certainty I’ve grown comfortable with. Even if she was sitting in this room then I could say she’s sitting in this room with me. I could see then the relative amount of small certainty I have in the brief periods of certainty I have.
Why does this matter?
The next time you’re on job interview or a date and the uncertainty is uncomfortable, it can be a huge comfort to remember that that’s okay. Uncertainty is okay, it’s normal. It’s what you work in and life in all the time. The difference is whether you are aware of it or not. The difference is whether you’re honest about it or not. For a lot of people, it can be difficult to be honest about it because many of us have been raised to fake certainty.
As a police officer people asked me how do I get to a certain place. I didn’t like to say I didn’t know. This is something that my dad said was entertaining about people in Japan. People there hated to look like they didn’t know something. If you asked where something was and they didn’t know, they would just give you false directions.
This idea of “saving face” is idea that we have to look smart, we have to look like we know what’s going on at all times. It shameful to not know everything. If you’ve been raised to act like you know everything, it can be very hard to not know everything. Yet, being comfortable with uncertainty today is one of the superpowers I have. It’s one of the huge differences I see between me and a lot of other people I have in my life. I’m comfortable with uncertainty. I’m comfortable not knowing how things are going to work out. I’m comfortable not knowing various things that you might think are critical.
Where’s my next paycheck going to come from? Where’s my next meal going to come from? What am I going to do tomorrow? I’m comfortable not knowing that today. That gives me a gigantic amount of peace every day. When I see it’s okay to not know what I’m going to do tomorrow, that takes a whole lot of stress away. I share this with you if you want less stress or if you struggle with trying to force certainty in your life. If you have something uncertain in your life, I hope you can see how natural it is to be comfortable with it. I hope you can see the benefits of looking around and seeing the uncertainty that already exists in life. It already is there, you often don’t see that every day life is full of an incredible amount of uncertainty. Most people are trying to force certainty all the time.
Today, I pray to be comfortable with uncertainty. I pray that I will not attempt to do things that force unnatural certainty in my life. I pray to not act like I know everything or to do other unhealthy behaviors to somehow force certainty to exist where it does not. I pray that you have the same chance today to see the difference between knowing and guessing. I pray that through seeing that difference you can be comfortable with the uncertainty in your life today. Thank you much for reading this. I would love to know what you think of this. Have a great day.