That old Greek thinking guy, Socrates Johnson, is reported to have said something like:

If I know anything, it’s that I know nothing.

No one quite knows exactly what he said as it was all jotted down by that Phil Plato guy.

He could have been making it up himself.

No one knows.

And that’s the po-

WAIT.

Let’s go over here…

Hello again.

I want to come over here to show you something.

It’s an experiment.

My thought is to draw your attention over here to see if it helps to keep you engaged.

It’s weird to be over this side of the page, right?

Does it work?

I don’t know.

And that’s the point.

Let’s go back over there and I’ll tell you why…

You see I believe doubt is a skill.

You have to master it.

I had doubt as to whether aligning the text to the right there would keep you engaged.

If I had given in to that doubt, I would have deleted it. Instead, I understood my doubt was a reaction to it being a little different, and so I let it run.

It worked – you’re still reading.

Sure, if you’re not in control of doubt and you let it get out of control, you can end up in a right mess.

Imposter syndrome and all that stuff soon follows.

But if you can control it…

If you can get a grip on doubt and embrace it…

You can try new things and make new breakthroughs.

I guess you could call it the creativity of doubt.

False conviction

Doubt is good.

I doubt myself all the time.

Some would say I shouldn’t, that I’ve proven my ideas work, my writing is good, that my work ethic is strong.

And sure, I know this deep down, but I choose to doubt every idea I have, every piece I write, and every hour I take off to rest.

But the world of marketing and advertising is rife with people who claim to know all the answers with complete conviction.

Various gurus claim to have found the formula to success.

A multitude of experts promise riches beyond your wildest dreams thanks to their ‘proven’ templates.

Rafts of rookies profess to know – with absolute confidence – how to write good copy despite having sold f-all to f-ing no one.

It’s all crap of course.

The amount of false conviction with which weak ideas and insight are flogged online is one of the few things that really riles me.

Actually, more than anything it just confuses me.

Invariably the only people out there worth listening to – people like Dave Trott or Vikki Ross to name but two – are humble.

They don’t claim to know everything.

They don’t promise silver bullets.

They have a healthy relationship with doubt.

Instead, they offer ideas, thoughts on what could work, what is worth trying.

It’s a much better way to be.

So next time you’re not sure about something…

Next time you doubt your idea…

Don’t worry.

It’s good to doubt things. It’s good to approach all your ideas with some skepticism. It’s good to not know all the answers.

Question the norms. Reshuffle your ideas. Try new angles.

Embrace doubt and it will only lead to greater creativity.

Author

Glenn Fisher is an author, copywriter, podcaster and speaker. After a number of years working in the local council, he left to become a copywriter and founded AllGoodCopy.com, a free online resource for direct response copywriters and marketers. For over a decade he worked with The Agora, a multi-million pound international financial publisher before leaving in 2018 to write freelance. His first book, The Art of the Click, has quickly become an Amazon bestseller and was shortlisted for the Business Book Awards. He is the host of the popular All Good Copy Podcast and regularly writes and consults for numerous businesses, brands and ad agencies. He lives happily with his partner Ruth and dog Pablo on the east coast of England.

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