It was one of the oddest moments I can remember.
I was 23 years old—and as was often the case during this time, I was deep in conversation with Jones. I can’t recall exactly what he was explaining, but I do remember that I certainly had something to say about it. (I often did!)
“Let me tell you what I think—” I interrupted.
But before I could dispense what would have surely been an enlightening dose of 23-year-old wisdom, the old man cut me off.
“Hey, hey, hey,” he said. “You wanna be careful with that.”
“With what?” I replied.
“That thinking thing. It can get you in trouble… In fact, most folks live their whole lives and never come to understand…you can’t always believe everything you think.”
You can’t believe everything you think… It took me decades to really understand what he meant by that.
Finally, though, I’m ready to explain it.
The Powerful Truth Within This Nugget of Unconventional Wisdom
Have you ever been so sure of something, so utterly convinced it was the truth that you could argue it, and win those arguments, only to find out that your information was incomplete…or that you were flat out wrong?
Of course you have. We’ve all done that at one time or another!
So, with that in mind, does the possibility exist that you might be wrong about something right now?
“Of course, Andy,” you would say. “Of course I might be wrong about something. Obviously, that possibility exists.”
Okay…if the possibility exists, wouldn’t it also hold true that you don’t know exactly what it is you might be wrong about? Or even how many things you might be wrong about?
OK, now we’re getting somewhere. All I’m saying is that there is a huge world of truth out there well beyond what you already know.
You see, as humans most of us only think as hard as we’re forced to. When we bump up against something we believe we already know, we usually stop thinking about it. We remain in place, and so do our boundaries.
Rarely do we dig in and seek wisdom about the things we already know.
This is what I think, we tell ourselves.
But if the possibility exists that we’re wrong…that means we can’t believe everything we think. See?
Consider this…there was a time when the apple fell on Newton’s head, and all of a sudden he figured out this gravity thing and explained it to society. But do we think Newton was the only guy in history to have an apple fall on his head? Or to watch a rock fall down a cliff or a dead bird fall from the sky?
Of course he wasn’t! But people only knew what they knew.
Yet Newton, for whatever reason, pushed beyond what he knew. He struggled beyond what his concept of the world was at the time. Struggling to think beyond what we know is not an easy thing to do, which is why—frankly—most people never give it a shot.
But Newton struggled, so he is the one we remember.
And the butterfly effect he started is still pushing the envelope today! Because Newton opened the door to a greater understanding of gravity, there are now innovators creating entirely new industries with the concept.
These are the people trying to figure out how to get to Mars, new ways of air travel, new kinds of suspension bridges, and any number of things that the principle of gravity holds sway over. All because one guy pushed beyond what he already understood and created a new paradigm for all of us.
But this idea doesn’t begin and end with principles of physics. So ask yourself…
- What do I know about parenting?
- What do I know about leadership?
- What do I know about financial achievement?
- What do I know about influence?
- What do I know about service?
Does the opportunity exist to think beyond what you know in these areas (and millions of others)?
Yes, it does. Because—say it with me—you can’t believe everything you think.