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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you remind yourself no one knows?

Today is November 26 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you remind yourself no one knows?” While navigating the chaos it is common to look at those who have achieved some level of success and assume their fortunes are related to their ability to have some secret, path, or recipe. The advent of social media and its subsequent growth around the globe has only amplified this perception. The truth is quite the opposite. Most people who successfully navigated the chaos made it up as they went along. As difficult as such an observation may be, there is plenty of evidence to suggest it is so.

In his May 10, 2019, Wall Street Journal column “Graduates, Are You Ready for the Most Important Secret in the Whole Wide World?” Jason Gay wrote “Nobody really knows what they’re doing. Life is a series of leaps and educated guesses. Sometimes, uneducated guesses. We can practice, prepare, and read all the instruction manuals, but we are really all making this up as we go along. Even the people who seem like they know what they’re doing—they don’t know what they’re doing all the time.” In his December 7, 2022, New York Times column on the state of Hollywood and movies A.O. Scott echoed similar sentiment and wrote “The screenwriter William Goldman’s axiom that “nobody knows anything” in Hollywood remains a good rule of thumb. Anyone who predicts the future of movies is either bluffing, guessing or indulging in wishful thinking.”

This entire series of daily Navigate the Chaos blog posts is filled with people who leaped, guessed, and prepared. There is simply no right way to succeed. There is no app for success. There is no one path to follow. There is no one strategy to navigate the chaos. The Navigate the Chaos daily question blog serves as a reminder, as Gay wrote “Nobody has life figured out. And the charlatans who claim they do have life figured out—they have it less figured out than anyone.”

This is one of the reasons why Navigate the Chaos poses questions. Too many people are telling you what to do. Far too many people have the secret, the way, or the key. There is no secret. There is no way. And there is no key. Everyone’s path in life is different. The more you search for the secret, way, or key, the more time you are wasting. One of the important things to remember with today’s reflection is that what worked for one person may not necessarily work for you.

You can, however, remain open to learning throughout your entire life. As musician Tom Petty wrote "You will never be told when the next bit of education is coming or where it's coming from or who the teacher will be. That information will only reveal itself after the fact. All that you can do is leave a little room there for the next lesson to come through. Someone will be carrying it. You just leave the door open a crack.”

In 1904 American poet and novelist Carl Sandburg wrote Incidentals and noted “Yesterday is done. Tomorrow never comes. Today is here. If you do not know what to do, sit still and listen. You may hear something. Nobody knows. We may pull apart the petals of a rose or make chemical analysis of its perfume, but the mystic beauty of its form and odor is still a secret, locked in to where we have no keys.”

The only person who should tell you what to do is yourself. Learning to ask yourself questions can provide the necessary self-awareness required to help you better understand your life situation. How often do you remind yourself no one knows? Asking yourself that question might just help you navigate the chaos.

As Fast Company noted in a July 24, 2006, editorial “You can stop pretending you know what you’re doing. I know you’re making everything up as you go (hoping nobody notices). It’s OK though – that’s not where your problems are coming from. Rather, your problems are coming from the fact that you think other people know what they’re doing. It’s an illusion that’s wreaking havoc in your life. It’s causing you to doubt yourself. It’s causing you to hide your challenges from others. It’s even paralyzing you at times. No one else knows what they’re doing either. They’re making everything up too. Relax into your ignorance. Open up. Experiment.”

As you navigate the chaos of life today, and put in the daily grind required to translate one dream after another into reality, remind yourself no one knows. Doing so just may help you more than you ever thought possible.

  • How often do you remind yourself nobody really knows what they’re doing?

  • How often do you remind yourself life is a series of leaps and educated guesses?

  • How comfortable are you making things up as you go along?

  • How does it make you feel knowing that most people who navigate the chaos only know what they are doing some of the time?

  • Do you find yourself not pursuing employment opportunities because you feel as though you are not qualified and assume only people who know what they are doing would apply?

  • How often can you relax into ignorance?

  • How often do you experiment and venture into something unknown?


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