The Power of Ignorance and Naivete

Friday I met with the David Shulman, executive director and founder of the Seattle Film Institute. SFI is the only fully accredited undergrad and graduate film school in the Pacific Northwest. He started it in 1994 and said that he had no business plan. In fact, he really didn’t know¬†what he was doing. There was a fortuitous mix of ignorance and naivete that allowed the school to grow and flourish. Had he known ahead of time the challenges of getting full accreditation at a collegiate level, he never would’ve attempted it.

photo from CC Zero
photo from CC Zero

How many times have you heard similar stories, particularly in the filmmaking or entrepreneurial world? Where people say, “If I had known what I was getting into, I never would’ve done it.” Or, “We didn’t know it was something that most people thought could NEVER be done. We didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

I think about some of the more gutsier projects and challenges I’ve taken up in the past that were borne out of my ignorance and naivete. Like quitting a 6-figure job, getting married, becoming a step dad and starting a business all in the same summer.

Or more recenlty, relaunching this blog while simultaneously producing not one, not two, but THREE new podcasts (all of which coming soon. Click here to stay updated on each).

All hail ignorance and naivete. I think a healthy dose of each is important, if not imperative, to accomplish the greatest achievements in the world.

Frankly, I don’t really know what my message is today. Should you purposefully try to remain ignorant about business or your craft? Of course not. But I do think that sometimes our quest to know every little detail about a thing, or our concerns about knowing what other people think, can hinder us from moving forward and just creating.

Perhaps poet Dylan Thomas put it best when he wrote…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.