What Everybody Ought to Know About Certainty And How It Can Hurt You

Certainty is one of the weakest positions in life. Curiosity is one of the most powerful. Certainty prohibits learning and curiosity fuels change.Dr. Henry Cloud 

This quote is extremely powerful and should trigger some deep reflection in each of us.

How many times have we walked into a situation like a meeting, negotiation, conversation or argument with absolute certainty in our position? I know I am guilty of this way too often. How many of these situations resulted in unnecessary conflict or a solution that was not optimal?

What if you had entered these situations with an open mind, willing to understand other viewpoints and learn about the positions that others have on the topic? What if you were truly curious and open to solving the situation in the most productive way possible instead of simply bulldozing through to your solution?


  • causes us to close our minds to other options that may be substantially better than what we have brought to the table
  • causes us to close our ears and ignore the viewpoints of others
  • puts us at risk of tying our ego to the position and damaging our reputation
  • puts us in a win-lose situation at best and probably a lose-lose situation

As Albert Einstein said, “Great ideas are often met with violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Don’t be the person in the meeting with the mediocre mind, not willing to open up and explore someone else’s ideas.

Having said this, do not be flexible in your values, principles and ethics. This is one area where you need to remain firm and inflexible. Thomas Jefferson said, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

On the flip side of certainty, curiosity;

  • opens our mind to other ideas and points of view
  • increases our chances of finding the optimum solution
  • drives collaboration
  • encourages creativity
  • results in openness
  • fuels change
  • promotes a win-win solution

Try approaching all situations with a curious and open mind. Hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time and see if you can combine them into an amazing resolution using the best attributes of both. “The ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each.” Roger Martin

Go ahead and give it a shot! See what curiosity and an open, learning mindset can do for you. See how curiosity can fuel positive change in your life and business.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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