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It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.

It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.    Mark Twain


While certainty has a valid and valuable role in professional practice, it can lead to over-confidence and even to carelessness, when not tempered by humility and curiosity.  We may become overly reliant on our expertise and complacent.


What is the downside to our being skillful, knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and certain about our practice decisions?  The answer is that there is no shortcoming if our practice is “stable” and our work falls within a familiar range of practice situations.  When faced with a surprising situation, we may be confused and uncertain of our approach. As a consequence, we may ignore or dismiss this discrepancy as an anomaly.  If we do respond, we may try to shape the situation to conform with expectations based on prior experience.


Relying exclusively on experience to guide us, our response is limited to familiar tactics and strategies.  Paradoxically, the factors that have led to our success can weaken and undermine us.


The minute one utters a certainty, the opposite comes to mind.  May Sarton

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Image by Montse Monmo,

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