Sunday, July 05, 2009

Curious about Certainty: What Role Does Certainty Play in Your Life, Direction, and Career? Or Can We Ever Have Certainty?

Definition of Certainty: The quality, state, or condition, of being certain. A fact or truth unquestionably established. Clearness; freedom from ambiguity; lucidity.

In these matters the only certainty is that nothing is certain.” - Pliny the Elder, Roman author

I never imagined it wouldn't work out for me. I had that absolute certainty in myself that has seen me through, I think, and my parents were absolutely behind me all the way.” - Ewan McGregor, Scottish actor

I decided to pick certainty for this week’s theme after hearing Annie Jennings, topnotch publicist, mention the importance of certainty. When a media specialist – radio, TV, publications, the Internet – wants to interview an authority, he or she wants to have the certainty that the interviewee will be smooth, sharp, informative, and highly credible.

Even though I lean toward Pliny’s belief that “nothing is certain,” I do have enough certainty about individual authors who have never failed to delight me. It is the same with actors, storytellers, artists, designers and many other talented stars. The same has happened for me on the Internet.

There are marketers, bloggers, programmers, writers and speakers that I am certain will be worth pursuing. I even have a seminar/conference/webinar list of those who hold certainty of excellence for me. I read their e-mails, listen to their MP3s, and take part in their teleseminars.

The other side of this week’s theme holds a huge variety of thoughts and beliefs about certainty. Here goes:
  • To believe with certainty we must begin with doubting.” - Stanislaus I, Polish Royalty
  • To counter the avoidance of intellectual challenge and responsibility, we must reduce the domination of certainty in education.” - William Glasser, American psychologist
  • The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice.” - Bertrand Russell, British philosopher
  • The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” - Erich Fromm, American psychologist
  • I feel, sometimes, as the renaissance man must have felt in finding new riches at every point and in the certainty that unexplored areas of knowledge and experience await at every turn.” - Polykarp Kusch, German scientist
  • Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. But I'd like to add a third certainty: trash. And while some in this room might want to discuss reducing taxes, I want to talk about reducing trash.” - Ruth Ann Minner, American politician

Three more that will keep us thinking:

  • It is far better to foresee even without certainty than not to foresee at all.” - Henri Poincare, French mathematician
  • I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.” - Michael Crichton, American director
  • If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible.” - William Lyon Phelps, American educator

"So, what are you certain about? I submit to you that it is OK to certain at times, but not so certain that others avoid you with certainty.