This phrase may seem like a blanket indictment of mistrust, or maybe just three simple words inferring we should solely depend on ourselves for knowledge or truth. Yet, this enigmatic, timely, in-your-face statement is neither of those. Seth Godin in a two-minute Blinklist podcast episode, attributed that powerful, three-word quip to William Goldman, the prolific Hollywood screenwriter.
What this simple, powerful saying suggests is that in so many areas of life where unexpected change is possible, those we think should know what’s coming, don’t.
No one can foretell the next bestselling book, fad or cultural viral thing that everyone wants to hear, read, or watch. Or especially not the next Black Swan that will interrupt life as we know it. Even those paid to know such things, don’t.
For those of us who create, this could also imply why bother. Why get up at 4 in the morning to work the craft to convey what we think or feel in words or paint? We know why we do these things, without knowing whether they will be the next big thing, or even add value to people’s lives. We just know we need to do it, and usually that’s enough to connect each day’s effort to the next day. Listen, act, repeat.
Despite not knowing what will happen, whether from our work, or how the world will survive this or the next black swan, we press on and keep doing the good work. We hold tight to thinking our day’s efforts will benefit someone, somewhere, sometime. Or maybe, it’s just a benefit to ourselves. Either way, that’s knowing something, while wisely letting go of future expectations. We have today and we have our memories of where we’ve been.
Most days that’s more than good enough.