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The Wisdom of Insecurity.

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For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.

Vincent Van Gogh

The Wisdom of Insecurity is a book by Alan Watts I read when I was just starting out in advertising. The simple message is that certainty is an illusion and change is constant. So, becoming comfortable with change and not knowing can teach you many things. It shows you there is no end point or pattern. Which of course works really well in a business full of deadlines.

Being comfortable with uncertainty in an industry that demands certainty is a strange place for a creative to be.The truth is nobody really knows anything, absolutely. And even if they do, it isn’t necessarily interesting or inspiring.

Inspiration.There it is. The world’s most overused word. It is used constantly and there is so little of it.The stars make me dream. I don’t know anything but the stars make me fucking dream. Certainty, might give you the right answer. Inspiration, gives you new ones.

Recently, Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian spoke about our industry drowning in its own bullshit.The jargon, the process, the context all used by so called experts in this ridiculous quest to create certainty.

Do yourself a favour, watch his speech. You might not agree with everything he says but it certainly shows how experts don’t really know much more than the rest of us.

In fact, when I think about people in my career who have been absolutely certain, they have always been trouble. The problem is our industry gravitates towards them. They make you feel like it’s all going to be okay. Many are arrogant or snake oil salesmen. If they are right, it is normally in a well trodden boring way wrapped in a slick presentation.And if they are wrong, they are gone.

And then you get those special people who are not so sure. But they believe. Often, they are ignored or not listened to. However, in my experience, I have found, they are often correct in the most interesting of ways. Interesting. We forget this is what this business craves and what every creative searches for every day. The problem is interesting is not measurable.

What many people forget, however, is in our business, neither is perfection or certainty.

Voltaire said, doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

I would venture most creatives couldn’t agree more.

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