Everybody knows everything.

“Nobody knows anything.”
That’s how screenwriter William Goldman summed up the entertainment industry in his 1983 memoir.
A little more than 30 years later and it appears that everybody now knows everything.
And we have Google to thank.
According to recent research, there’s a strange side effect to searching the Internet.
When people successfully look something up online, they feel that they have mastered that bit of knowledge.
Access to the information makes them feel smarter than they really are.
This is really bad news.
People, in general, already believe that they’re better and smarter than average.
It’s a cognitive bias called illusory superiority.
And the Internet is making this bias even more extreme.
It’s supercharging people’s preconceptions.
Solidifying their false assumptions.
And that would be fine if we lived in a utopia.
But we don’t.
We live in an age of rapid change.
We live in an age of possibility.
And certainty kills possibility.
It smothers inspiration and wonder.
I find it so ironic.
The Internet creates wonderful possibilities.
By opening a space of uncertainty.
One where we can learn, connect, create something new, and grow.
And the Internet takes possibility away.
By making us feel certain.
By shutting down curiosity and learning.
By creating a space that isn’t interesting, challenging, creative, or fulfilling.
Life is, indeed, a paradox.
And J.F.K. put it well:
“The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is unchangeable or certain.”

What do you do?

“So, what do you do?”
Whenever someone asks me that ice-breaker question, my instinct is to give a smartalecky response.
“Let’s see… I eat. I play. I laugh. I write. I wash dishes. I sh…”
But I resist. I know what they’re after.
“So, what’s your profession. What’s your job?”
I’ve been thinking about that seemingly benign question of late.
And not only do I think it’s passé, but I also believe it’s harmful.
Have you ever really thought about it?
It begs for a static, passionless answer.
“Oh, I’m a lawyer. I make bread. I own a gym. I’m a teacher.”
It’s a malignant question, which needs to be cut out of our discourse and replaced by a different one.
“So, what are you trying to change?”
We need to remind each other that the laws of impermanence rule the marketplace.
Just like they rule the Universe.
If we are not working hard to change things, we will be made irrelevant by someone who is.
There’s an old saying by G. K. Chesterton that hangs on my wall.
It reminds me to keep changing things.
“If you leave a thing alone, you leave it to a torrent of change.
If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post.
If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again.
That is, you must be always having a revolution.”
Without intervention, without progressive change, without revolution, everything in our work and our lives gets worse.
We see it happening to organizations big and small, but most of us still don’t get it.
And I think it’s because we’re hypnotized.
Have you heard the term “functional stupidity?”
It’s a new management theory (great name, huh?).
It says that the absence of critical thinking in organizations creates unity.
And this consensus mindset helps improve productivity.
Instead of questioning things, people focus intently on the task at hand.
We are a nation overflowing with “functionally stupid” organizations.
We’re on autopilot.
We enthusiatically believe in the actions we take every day.
Whether or not they’re improving people’s lives and adding distinctive value.
It’s a delusion. A happy trance.
And we need to be knocked out of it.
By each other.
So, what is it exactly that you’re trying to change?