Toxic “certainty” in an uncertain world

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Susan Cain’s book Quiet reports, “The Harvard Business School information session on how to be a good class participant instructs, ‘Speak with conviction. Even if you believe something only 55 percent, say it as if you believe it 100 percent.'” At HBS, Cain noticed, “If a student talks often and forcefully, then he’s a player; if he doesn’t, he’s on the margins.”

You can read a fabulous article on false confidence at Alternet.

Toyota Kata author Mike Rother refers to this as Artificial Certainty. The Lean phrase “go and see” instructs managers and true leaders to recognize when they’re guessing and see it as a signal to stop speculating and start observing. I consider Artificial Certainty to be Toxic Certainty.

What do you say to someone who already “knows everything”? Recently I found the words for a CEO who thinks he’s lean, but is a commander,

  • Chill long enough to hear me out. Drop your sword and shield and armor and let yourself experience a whole dimension you’re missing.

Are these the “perfect words,” guaranteed to dissolve the armor? Absolutely! Oh, wait. I don’t know if they will work for you. I just know they work for me. 



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