The cliché says, “Knowledge is power.” But if you’re a student of self-development, you know knowledge offers only the potential and possibility of power. The power comes from learning something, discovering the insights it holds, and then taking action to apply the lesson.
Thus the continuous search for knowledge is a rewarding and fruitful path to follow. But there are times when knowledge can hold you back. Times in which you mindfully choose not to know something. I have titled this tendency “intentional ignorance.”
Intentional ignorance can be mildly undesirable, or it can cause harmful and lasting mistakes. Take a look at some examples:
You know in your heart of hearts that what you believe isn’t actually true. But sometimes we foster delusions and self-denials anyway, because it allows us to escape from realities we don’t want to admit about ourselves.
But other times, intentional ignorance can be helpful, liberating, or even necessary. And this is the kind of intentional ignorance every artist, entrepreneur, and visionary must possess...
If you dissect the breakthrough disruptions that companies like PayPal, Uber and Amazon created, ignorance played a large factor in their success. The founders of all three of these ventures were quite naive about the industries they were disrupting. It was this ignorance gave them an edge.
If you want to support yourself and have a life centered around painting, sculpting, dance or another artistic endeavor, the odds against you are about a billion to one. If you’re starting a new restaurant, service business, or software company, the reality is that 80 percent of those businesses will be out of business within the first two years, and 80 percent of the 20 percent will be gone by the end of five.
That’s when you need intentional ignorance...
You have to discount the percentages, ignore the forecasts, and forget the odds. You have to have the guts, balls, courage, foolishness and intentional ignorance, to believe you will be different. It doesn’t always work. But if you don’t try, it always fails.