So, you think you know?

The world is a rush all around us. The busiest of ant hills seems sleepy by comparison. Sitting at a stop light is a great place to get a snapshot of our fast-paced culture, a picture that might otherwise go unnoticed due to our own involvement. Holding the brake and taking an occasional glance at the traffic light is really the only thing to do while waiting for the green light. Sometimes, for just a moment, everything seems to slow down, allowing us a chance to absorb something we see.

Bumper sticker philosophies

A short time back I noticed a bumper sticker (that’s “bumpah” in Maine). I had seen it before, but this time I saw it differently. My first thought was “what type of person must this be - how could those words produce a positive outcome?” I remember seeing it before, but it was one of those things that just rolled around in my head, undigested until now. This time a light came on in my head that put my mind on a “query-search” of my own thoughts.

The bumper sticker read “Question Authority.” Maybe you’ve had the same first impression; how is it good having that sentiment in print on the back of your car, especially when “authority” pulls you over? Doesn’t really help set the stage for a good excuse, eh?

With each passing day, experience teaches us everything that we think we know - yes I said “think” we know. Granted, a lot of our knowledge of basic stuff is mostly correct, so there is stuff we really do know. But knowledge that’s based on our beliefs can be dangerous, especially if left unquestioned. Every day holds the opportunity to gain more information, and some of that might replace older or outdated information that was used to form what we think we know.

Every one of us at some point in our lives has been proven wrong as a result of holding on to what we thought we knew. Sometimes it’s not easy to come to terms with this. Having to accept the fact that we were wrong in our thoughts forces us to take a step backwards in our minds, questioning “how could this be?”

The validity of the information we each hold can be debated with no real way of ever knowing the right answer. There is a saying that “things that have never happened before, happen all the time,” proving what each of us does not want to hear: just because we think we know, doesn’t necessarily mean that we do know, only that we believe. There is a difference. What’s important though, is how each of us acts upon the information or beliefs that we use to guide our everyday lives.

Knowing, in the moment

With that “bumpah” sticker, was this person trying to reach out and provoke thought, or was this person displaying it in hopes that it will cause each of us to question the information that is received each day, no matter the source? Remember - we have all been wrong at some point.

Seeing that sticker again, and viewing it through more seasoned eyes, has made me think back to several occasions where I was proven wrong in my beliefs; by my customers, my children and my wife.

I have come to the realization of the only thing I really truly know is what is happening at this moment, right now, and I had better be certain to take full advantage of this moment and use it to become better than I was yesterday. Through this realization, I will always question my approach in my decision making.

While driving, turn down the radio, put the cell on mute and question the beliefs that control your actions in your business. For example, ask yourself this question: during the economic downturn, did the economy inside your route suffer as severely as it seemed, or did you just believe it did? Either way, your thoughts, which turn into action, play an equal part in that level of severity.

The more we look within and question our own internal authority, the more light will be shed on the difference between what we know and how much we believe.