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Self
Connections

Self
Connections

What do you really know?

By: Stuart Knight (Founder and CEO) | May 30, 2024




Hey friends,


It’s been a while since I’ve reached out, and that’s because I chose to take a break from my blog in order to focus my attention on the launch of The Human Connection Group.  In my 30+ years of being an entrepreneur, never before have I built such a multifaceted offering to the world, hence the reason I’ve been a little MIA lately.  


However, in between writing copy, shooting videos and hemorrhaging money into my newest baby, I’ve been popping my head up from my hole in the ground to see what’s happening in the world.  Like you, I’ve watched the news about protests, celebrity divorces, courtroom dramas, controversial government policies, rising dictatorships and crumbling democracies around the world.  Locally, I’ve even heard the news from a fellow parent about my daughter apparently unfairly taking snacks from her classmate.  And as all of this information pours over me, I am reminded of one very important thing.  It’s all information.  Some of it is accurate.  Some of it is not.


Whether it’s information we received from our parents as children, gossip from the neighbour at the end of the driveway, or the constant blathering from our favourite television pundits who reiterate the beliefs we want to believe, it’s all information.  And with this information, we make decisions.  In some cases, those decisions are small where one restaurant wins out over another, because your colleague at work is convinced his grandmother, being an Italian immigrant, granted him the expertise of telling everyone where to find the best lasagna.  In other cases, those decisions are bigger where someone unintentionally repeats bigoted thoughts, because the algorithm on Instagram strung together enough videos for them to be convinced they understood the anthropological history of an entire race.


No matter what decisions you make, you can be sure they are all based on information you received somewhere else, and now fuels the best life you aim to live today.  To me, the notion of that is somewhat terrifying.  Mainly, because I have clear memories of playing the telephone game as a child.  Did you play that game?  For those who didn’t it’s the one where kids sit in a circle, and pass along a sentence by whispering into each other’s ears hoping that by the time it gets back to the originator it has remained intact.  Anyone who ever played that game knows the impossibility of such a task, which brings sheer delight to the children as they hear the final version of what started as a normal sentence, and is now a line from a psychedelic dream.  



And that’s exactly what terrifies me!  If a simple sentence can be that mangled through the minds of a handful of interpreters, what happens to information that’s been spun through a cycle of hidden agendas, political identities and plain old stupidity?  Well, I don’t know the exact answer, but I can assume that it’s not good.  And yet, I feel like I’m left with little choice but to use this limited information myself as I am deciding whether to buy a house, send my kids to college or eat more brussel sprouts.  Confronted with this, I begin to understand why people choose to ‘go with their gut” when voting for one political party over another?  Ask that same person at election time to name the three biggest issues on the platform of the person they are choosing, and I’ll bet you ten to one they won’t know that information.  It turns out that getting to the truth takes more work than what most people want to put in.


When you think about the utter irony of how intelligent we think we are, compared to our true intellect, it’s nothing short of hilarious!  It reminds me of the countless conversations I have with my young children where they aim to convince me that it’s not necessary to wash your hands, get a good sleep or look both ways before crossing the street.  While stating their case, they look at me as if I’m an idiot for not understanding their logic.  It’s the same look adults have given me in the past when they argue on behalf of their preferred political party, religion or sports team.  They simply can’t understand why everyone else doesn’t understand what they understand.


Of course, this doesn’t mean that people don’t know anything.  There is universal information that most adults do agree is irrefutable and sound.  Most of us agree that there’s enough good information to assume that smoking cigarettes is a bad idea, and brushing your teeth is a good one.  However, I’d argue that the information the majority of people use to make big life decisions, or to establish deep perspectives on life’s most important topics is dangerously flawed.  So flawed, that it leads them to making choices, and believing in things that are harmful to themselves, their families, the communities they care about and the world they rely on.  All the while, convinced to the bone that instead of missing life’s great opportunities for growth, that they are ones others should follow to the land of utopia.


If you agree this is a problem, how do you jump off that train to explore new lands?  


You do it by seeking the opposite to what you think is true.  For years, I saw the world through a set of eyes that were backed by many books that had been read, higher education that had been accomplished, documentaries that had been seen, countries that had been traveled, and life lessons that had been learned.  And then my partner's sister married an American army veteran, who had lived a very different life than my own.  


This “brother in law” became someone that I enjoyed having deeper conversations with, and exposed me to perspectives I had never considered before.  For the first time in my life, information far from the echo chamber I had been living in was now flowing into my orbit.  Essentially, I was being exposed to ideas I didn’t want to hear.  While this type of experience had trickled into my life in the past, I was now splashing around in a full tsunami.  Up until that point, I considered myself a pretty worldly man, which was supported by the many “off the beaten path” experiences I'd had.  However, now I was beginning to realize that no matter how much I thought I knew, there was so much more that I didn’t know.  Happily, it wasn’t just one sided, as this new found family member was also confiding that I was offering perspectives that he too hadn’t always considered.



Since then, he and I have often commented on how rare it is that the two of us can talk about life’s biggest issues from opposing points of view, and come out of it better informed and still liking each other.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a few other people in my life who I can engage with in this way, but like I said, it’s definitely rare.  No matter who the person is, when I have these kinds of experiences, I am further convinced of the importance of opening myself up to the opposite of what I think to be true.  And when I apply that understanding to my everyday life, my life expands.


Today, when I am convinced that I am right about something during a disagreement with my partner, I try very hard to open myself up to her "opposing" view.  When I find myself caught up in the belief that home ownership is the one true path to long term financial freedom, I seek the advice of self made millionaires who only ever rented the dwellings they lived in.  When I become convinced that raising my children in NYC, surrounded by endless opportunities, is best for them, I look for stories of families who took their kids out of school, and sailed around the world.  Whatever it is that I believe to be true, I want to know the opposite before I accept it, which ultimately leads me to better information to then make better decisions.  They say the truth will set you free, but I think it’s more accurate to say that the further away we are from the truth the more difficult it is to live a life that is true to us.  


We want to be the best version of ourselves when showing up for family, friends, colleagues and our community.  We want to guide the next generation down a path that’s best for them.  We want to be good stewards of the environment.  We want to make the world a better place.  Can we do that with only half of the information?  Well, the older I get, the more I realize that half of the information only gets you halfway there.  Those not willing to accept those results must be willing to open the door wide enough to let more information in.  Specifically, information that is opposite to what they already have, and believe to be true.


And yes, opening that door will often generate feelings of anxiousness, anger, confusion, and more, but if that visitor is allowed to stay long enough to offer a perspective alternative to your own, your life will begin to change in profound ways.  After being told our daughter was “stealing” snacks, we sought alternative information, and eventually discovered that another girl was trying to “buy” her attention through the offering of food.  Apparently people have been doing it for thousands of years. 


Much love,

Stuart





Connect with Stuart on Instagram  and LinkedIn 

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