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Is Ignorance Bliss or is Knowledge Power?

Updated: May 16, 2021

If you had to choose one, just one saying to live by, what would you choose?

It is the 5th and final week of CLCI Live's March theme of Duality; in this live we are joined by three amazing Master Certified Life Coach graduates, Saolotoga, Abhijeet, and Donne and the team asks them, should we enjoy our ignorance or should we seek knowledge & the power it brings?

Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.), and Anthony Lopez (M.C.L.C), along with our three graduates, are split. We see the value of both statements and make our own cases for one over the other. Well at CLCI Live we do what we do best and smash this duality and come up with incredible ways to both combine and deconstruct both modes of thought!

Is ignorance Bliss?

The Case for Ignorance

There is a strong case to be made that ignorance is bliss. Have you ever come home after a long day of work/school and wish you didn't have all these responsibilities? Have you ever envied your children or pets for the easy breezy life they may have?

Sure, you find immense value in the things you know and are capable of now. But things we so simple when we were younger and didn't know how complicated the world could be.

Coaches will often find that their client's have complex, busy, and stressful lives that are unsatisfying because of the sheer amount options available. It seems that they are burdened by the knowledge they have and the expectations it brings. It becomes appealing for many people to want to just simplify their lives; do less, think less, know less, in the effort to reduce the stress of knowing too much for their own good.

The thing the truly ignorant know they are ignorant? And do they know what bliss is?

The Case against Ignorance

If we just look at the bare statement Ignorance is Bliss, I'm sure you could find plenty of examples where this is not the case.

A person who knows nothing can suffer just as easily as the person who knows everything. It's just different things that bring on the suffering. Looking back to history, a great deal of harm was caused by people's ignorance, and power without the presence of knowledge can be downright dangerous.

Furthermore, ignorance in moderate doses can actually be more harmful than knowing you know nothing at all, at least to the people around you. This is certainly the case in the Dunning-Kruger effect. gives a great overview of this phenomenon where those who do not know any better greatly overestimate their abilities and their perceptions.

The Dunning-Kruger effect becomes most apparent when people argue about politics. Do you have that one family member or Facebook friend who is always spouting nonsense about [insert political opinion here]? Well now you know everything there is to know about the Dunning-Kruger effect (or do you?). Is it possible that there could be more to know?

Is Knowledge Power?

The Case for Knowledge

It appears fairly obvious to everyone now that knowledge is generally a good thing. Pursuing some sort of education is almost non-optional in the Western working world and is certainly non-optional for children growing up.

But the practice of a public and mandatory education is, for all of human history, is relatively new. It was only until the 20th century in the United States that the push was made for all children to attend state schools, regardless of financial situation. And if you were born anytime before then it was essentially a crapshoot; education was an institution reserved only for the rich, religious, or military.

Now with the advent of the internet, people's means of seeking education and educating themselves have only improved. This gives people the power to choose and research the jobs they would like to have and how they can achieve their goals. In this sense, knowledge is power and a good education can give you the competitive edge in the job market or when running your own business.

And this only looks at one type of knowledge. There is also spiritual and emotional knowledge that people can posses and as one begins to open one's mind to the concept of knowing more there is always more to know.

The Case against Knowledge

Is knowledge actually power? While being knowledgeable by itself can be a good thing, it can also bring the feeling of being powerless, overwhelmed or also cause us to believe the areas of life where we have some knowledge are the only ones that exist. Which may make us both presumptuous and close-minded forgetting that there may be far more possibility than what we think we know.

Coaches are very familiar with this idea as many clients they encounter are both knowledgeable and feel powerless. If power is the ability to act and produce positive effects in ones own life, then the opposite would be a lack of action or the inability to produce anything. Client's can suffer from paralysis by analysis and will often second-guess themselves, leading them to flounder in their goals and make no real progress.

Forbes contributor, Jeff Boss, gives excellent advice on How To Overcome The 'Analysis Paralysis' Of Decision-Making. One great takeaway from the article is how we can manage our inherent thirst for knowledge.

"...set yourself parameters for what you need to know (now) and what you’d like to know (in the future). If the information you have now answers the call, it's time to move forward."

CLCI also provides tools such as Cartesian Logic & SWOT to help clients make better informed decisions. Decisions that will then require action and follow through to complete.

While there is no limit to the amount of knowledge that exists out there, you have to stop somewhere, make a decision, and use that power inside you to pursue your goals. That power may come from your motivation, discipline, responsibilities, values, and basic needs, but it does not come from what you do or don't know. Knowledge is not power, but a force multiplier.

Knowing and Loving Your Ignorance

As we concluded our CLCI Live, we all seem to be in agreement about the dual nature of ignorance and knowledge. A person can be both ignorant and knowledgeable and the recognition of both is what leads to what Abhijeet calls a growth mindset.

For coaches, encouraging a growth mindset means we want to encourage our clients to accept what they do and don't know, but realize that

  • they have the ability to know more

  • that their efforts make them stronger

  • that they already have the power to achieve their goals

Once we accept the limits of our own knowledge, only then can we benefit from the knowledge or clients can teach us. As a coach we want to walk into each session, blissfully ignorant about our client and curious to learn more, but also full of the powerful knowledge of what a coach's role is, how it should be fulfilled, and when and how to employ the highly effective tools and skills a trained coach carries with them.

Thank you,

Saolotoga, Abhijeet, and Donne for joining us

and Thank you

Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr., and Anthony Lopez

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