Informed pessimism is a big problem

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I typed a note with an idea on November 15, 2009 at 9:47pm.

On that note was written “a book for personal trainers to become better at their jobs.”

I had no idea how to write a book, no connections in publishing, and didn’t know anybody who had written a book.

I was a 24 year-old trainer working out of a small boutique studio in Toronto with a dream, grossly ignorant as to what it entailed, yet confident enough to push forward.

What has happened since then is not because I’m smarter or know more or had better mentors than anybody else. Quite the opposite. It was because I kept myself blissfully, yet strategically, ignorant.

There is a folder on my computer with books that I want to someday write. Most will never get written. This folder is a parking lot for my ideas so that when I have an idea or come across a resource that could fit, I have a place to put it.

The Ignorance Quotient is one of those books that exists only as a folder in my computer at this time.

Ignite the Fire got written because of uninformed optimism. I was a 24 year-old with gumption. With audacity. I was a 24 year old who decided that I wanted to write a book to educate a broken industry because I was too ignorant not too.

Informed pessimism is a big problem these days.

The more that is learned about a subject, the more reasons why it’s going to be hard, or is a bad idea, or somebody else is better suited to do that idea, take hold.

Wanting to know “one more thing” or “the best way” before starting is nothing more than a perceived acceptable excuse for procrastination. Instead, I suggest an alternative: uninformed optimism. This brings me to the Ignorance Quotient idea.

The Ignorance Quotient noun

The point of knowledge acquisition where one knows enough to begin a task and any more information pertaining to that task would be detrimental either to getting started or achievement.

Synonym: uninformed optimism   

There are two problems with uninformed optimism:

  1. It sounds irresponsible
  2. Fear

Knowing that you’re ignorant about a subject isn’t exactly motivating to take acton. So, in order to remove fear, giving you the confidence to move forward, and be responsible enough to not bankrupt yourself in the process of tackling a new project, I suggest two rules:

1. Imagine the worst-case scenario

Danger is real, but fear is a choice. Fear is simple, irrational, and made up in that lizard brain of yours. The following 40 words should banish the fear of action in your mind by helping you better define the problem:

Fear is an irrational response to the unknown. You fear because you do not understand. When you do not understand, your mind makes up scenarios leading you to believe that bad things that cannot possibly happen, will most definitely happen.

–Fear will cease to exist once you make the unknown, known. These thoughts on fear come directly from a previous article here.

2. Mimimize loss, maximize gain

Failure is feedback and should be invited. It should be planned for. In order to plan for failure, you must create a plan where winning once outweighs many failures. Said another way, if you could fail 100 times and win once, the benefits of the single win should outweigh all of the failures put together and catapult you to the next level.

Never did I imagine that it would come to this

It’s now 2018. That book got written. It’s called Ignite the Fire and it has sold tens of thousands of copies and ignited a shift in my career that’s led to six winters abroad, 6 other books, and more wealth and impact than I could have ever dreamed.

Never did I imagine it would come to this. Never did I plan for this or desire this as I lay awake at night.

What “this” is, just happened. And I went with it. And I kept trying new things. And most of those new things didn’t work. And I learned from them. And I got better. And things are going pretty well right now.

Maybe what we need more of these days is ignorance.

Maybe all of the information that we have accessible to us in our pockets can be a crutch more than a support. Maybe knowing too much stops us from doing important and impactful work.

Or maybe not.

I don’t really know. Nobody really knows. Those that pretend that they do know are often the most dangerous. Disillusion is much more dangerous than defined ignorance.

So, my friend, I’m just making it up as I go.

Don’t you realize you can do this too?

-Coach Jon

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