Doodle Letter: UThe Entrepreneur’s Alphabet: U is for Understanding

by: Stacey Zackin, PhD, MSW, PCC (Manager, WORK_SPACE)

The Entrepreneurs Alphabet of Values is intended to a) provide the writer (aka: me), a basic template and structure for my blog and b) the reader (aka: you) an opportunity to reflect on various values and how they show up in your personal and professional lives. I thought it was appropriate for you to understand that since this particular blog is about the value of Understanding.

There are multiple levels of UNDERSTANDING:

  1. The concrete cognitive act of knowing something as a fact or inevitability,
  2. The less tangible notion of perception, discernment or instinct, and
  3. The more emotional context of having appreciation of, or empathy for something.

Numbers 2 and 3 have always been based on personal experience and interpretation but in these complicated and confusing times, it seems that Number 1 is now is being based more and more on subjective perception and idiosyncratic bias.

Human beings have the need to know the who, what, when, where, why and how. But knowing and understanding are different. And if we are too attached to what we think we know, then we block off the opportunity to enhance our understanding. We won’t be open to learn anything new, perceive anything different or consider anything that is contradictory to what we already believe. We use all of our mental acuity and emotional energy to collect evidence that reinforces our existing point of view; a point of view which then becomes so narrow and so shallow that we become isolated in a world of our own making.

In some respects it is comforting to know what to expect, to have our opinions validated, to feel confident in what “should” be done and to feel right (if not superior.) In other respects, it can be monotonous, limiting and hostile…for we can only be right if others are wrong. In the 1987 film Broadcast News, someone says to Holly Hunter’s very smart, type-A and controlling character, “It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you’re the smartest person in the room.” To which she responds, “No. It’s awful.”

This weekend we will be given an extra hour and next week, we will be dealing with the consequences of a contentious election. Both present opportunities to practice the value of understanding, to ask questions rather than just port forth our answers, to be curious rather than judgmental and to look within before lashing out.

Wishing you much understanding,