Thursday, March 02, 2006

If You're So Smart

Not too long ago, my son, Forrest, with a devious grin on his face, posed a challenge: "Dad, if you're so smart, what is one million plus one million?"

I, Laius, faced my deposer. "Well, son, one million plus one million is two million."

With eyes as large as saucers, my son responded, "Wow! You are good."

There are at least a couple of lessons here for all of us to learn.

  1. A little bit of knowledge can make us both dangerous and foolish. The Apostle Paul said that "...knowledge puffs up...". My experience is that the amount of puffery seems inversely proportional to the amount of actual knowledge we possess - the more you posture what you know, the less you actually know. When you think you are going to undermine someone with what passes for less than a novice level of apprehension of what is so, prepare yourself for a fall. And quite frankly, you will deserve it.

  2. There is typically much more complexity associated with that which is so than we like to admit or are even capable of recognizing. Unfortunately, we tend to believe that simplest is best. When it comes to making decisions, we rely on linear explanations and single point assumptions to guide our thoughts. When we're this simplistic, we miss the opportunity to explore the richness of underlying causes and effects that can make us regret our commitments or reap previously unconsidered sources of value.

It seems paradoxical, but there is value hidden away in uncertainty, and there is value in exploring it. When we're so smart, we admit we're ignorant, and we take the steps to explore and to correct it.


George said...

I think you are overlooking a few things here, Rob.


Robert said...

Maybe so. Please enlighten me.