The Power of Doubt

Question mark done with chalk


We find ourselves in that weird week between Christmas and New Year’s – that week that feels a bit like the Twilight Zone where no one’s sure what’s real and what isn’t. Because of that, most people tend to focus on one of two things: eating as much as possible or setting goals for the upcoming year. The former is squarely focused on the present – how much can I stuff into my gaping maw at this very moment before I pass out and/or puke – while the latter is focused on the future.

Last week, before the Twilight Zone kicked into full gear, I read a short article that resonated with me, and I think it’ll prick up your metaphorical ears, too. The author of the article is a gentleman who professionally trains Olympic athletes, and he highlights the talents of a particular athlete from the Philippines who is training to be a marathon runner. He points out that this runner is not a professional athlete, nor does she receive any type of financial support from any organization in her quest to qualify for the Olympics. She has a fairly high-profile and demanding job with consumer products giant Procter & Gamble that takes up more than its fair share of her time, leaving very little time for personal pursuits.

On her own dime, she flew over to Canada to run in the Ottawa Marathon, and she did so well that not only did she qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon, she ranked in the top 15 runners from her home country of the Philippines – and she’s only been doing this for a handful of years (all around her busy schedule being a regular person). How is this possible? He says the key to her success is that in all the time he has coached her, he has never heard her utter these three words: “I know that.”

Because of that, she listens far more intently and is more coachable. Every critique and every suggestion are taken to heart and internalized, translating to better performance and improved results. While this springs from the field of sports, this lesson applies to all of us.

For those of you who are reading this between stuffing an entire Christmas ham down your gullet and taking a long winter’s nap, I’ll leave you here and wish you a happy holiday. For those intrepid few who are sitting down to strategize and set real-estate-related goals for yourselves for the upcoming year, let me add this: rather than knowing what you know, DOUBT WHAT YOU KNOW. For example, if you KNOW that having a low credit score will keep you or a client from getting into a home in 2018, swat yourself in the back of the head for being that annoying know-it-all, because you’re wrong. If you KNOW that you or a client can’t get approved for a loan because of self employment, same thing for you and the head swat. When you doubt you know something, you tend to ask more questions and learn more things – and you avoid bruising or slight contusions to your head. Happy headache-free Holidays!

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