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Graham Greene- “When we are not sure, we are alive.” 20th century English writer, journalist, and novelist.

Why so often do many confuse certainty with confidence? When someone says, “Don’t be so sure.”, it may trigger your defensive posture. You may feel defeated, disheartened, depressed, and even possibly devastated. You think your self-confidence is taking a blow. Thus lies the issue; certainty and confidence are not the same.

When someone tells you, “Don’t be so sure,” it is probably excellent advice.

First, there is a downside to being absolute. Certainty closes the door; it’s final.

Then too, it has an air of smugness and labels one as being obstinate. Obstinate feelings grow out of insecurities and the belief that only by being right will I be worthwhile. At these times, it is best to reconsider the basis of my self-worth, accepting that real strength, showing it by the willingness to adjust my viewpoint when necessary.

I am confident that we have been victimized by the “certain” person at least once in our lives. They probably have the notoriety of being a tyrant. I had a sales manager that was that way.

I’ve read The New Conceptual Selling and The New Strategic Selling by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman. The books detail how to identify a customer real needs and use listening skills to tailor your sales efforts. These efforts produce a win-win, everybody is happy and satisfied.

When suggesting this model, Frank, my sales manager, barked at me, “We already know the customers’ needs! It is your job to make them understand that.” He was certain. But sadly, he was certainly wrong!

I knew that I was right. I confirmed it with others, and the fact too, the Heiman and Miller sell their sales training to several Fortune 500 companies.

I’ve heard it said several times by counselors and psychologists that, more often than not, the one receiving the therapy is the victim, and yet it is the assailant that needs the counseling the most.

One is being smug when one observes the strength of character that they possess, that they become so pleased with their cleverness that the overly certain believe they are better than others.

Be assured; when feeling smug, you needn’t be concerned about changing it. Something will soon happen to humble that individual, like obstinate Frank, causing one to have a more balanced perspective of themselves.

For a “certain” individual, life becomes less of an adventure. Instead, life becomes more of a long dark tunnel with no light in sight. One does not affirm life when being closed and always sure. It is sad, too, that those who are still certain are rarely open. There is no way that they ever allow themselves to become vulnerable. They fall into their snare of not following their intuition while failing to see their need to be flexible.

Being sure of oneself can mean two things: First, it means your mental health is terrible. Being sure you know everything, you are always right, better than others, and so on, it’s a sign of dramatic ignorance.

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Instead, the more you truly know, the more questions arise, and you find yourself paradoxically, as knowing less. That is how science works; a discovery inevitably raises new questions.

Secondly, being confident and having a successful attitude is a good thing, and it is necessary to move forward in one’s endeavors and goals. However, your confidence must rely on a stable foundation that consists of profound knowledge, experience, dedication, and hard work.

Allowing oneself to be open to new opportunities and possibilities grants us vitality! Better yet, it renews an individual and brings us back to being a viable living organism. Discussing being obstinate reminds me of an African proverb, “If you refuse to be made straight while you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.”

Be open to change. Allow yourself to be fresh, alive, and happy. It is better than being in a rut.

Brad earned a B.S. degree in Pharmacy from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

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