Smart Rules: Doubt

Also known as the whackadoodle test, or don’t be the hubris guy.  

The most intelligent people in the world are painfully aware of how much they *don’t* know.  Doubt is your friend.  Doubt is one of the most valuable critical tools you have.  Doubt keeps you honest, and the honest conversation you have with yourself is everything when it comes to the business of smart behavior.  (Because how is anyone going to know you’re smart if you are doing dumb shit?)

People who are dealing honestly with you will respect your doubt, they will be fine with you asking questions, verifying details.  They won’t take it personally because they have nothing to hide and they want a partner who has asked hard questions and discovered solid answers.  

People who are are not honest will resent your doubt.  They will act outraged, they will rail and cry about how you are being so unfair, they will make it personal attack when it isn’t.  These people carry around their emotional needs like the cloud of dust that followed Pig-pen, and they want nothing more than to cloud your vision with all that drama.  

Doubt is another word for curiosity: how does this work?  How can it go wrong?  What don’t I know?  Doubt doesn’t have to carry emotional content.  It isn’t personal.  And it needs to be directed equally back at you.  What are the chances that I’m wrong about this conclusion?  Only a whackadoodle doesn’t allow for the possibility that they are wrong.

Absolute, unjustified certainty is also known as hubris.  The old Gods overlooked all kinds of sins.  The one thing they punished with regularity was hubris.  Doubt is your antidote to hubris, and will keep you from making a fool of yourself.  Or at least it is the best you can do to prevent falling on your face.  

Smart Rules: Doubt

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