Richard Feynman was a prominent physicist known for his work in theoretical physics and quantum mechanics. Perhaps one of the smartest men in his generation, even he knew that we could become over confident in our own abilities and self perception. He’s famously quotes having said:
The First Principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.
It’s easy to think that when you achieve competency in something you know enough about that topic. It’s easy to let you ego take over and begin to protect your self image about how smart, how strong, how secure, etc. etc. you might be. While this might be comforting it’s a dangerous place to be.
Why? Because you stop learning. You start creating blindspots because you’re not absorbing new information coming in about yourself or the environment around you. You miss new opportunities that could take you to the next level.
Feynman kept The First Principle top of mind by constantly challenging himself in new endeavours totally unrelated to physics. He would learn how to draw, study biology, hike the Mayan pyramids, or investigate how dogs’ sense of smell worked. He lived a life of curiosity – ignoring what other people thought of him along the way.
We should always keep The First Principle in mind. Acknowledging that whether we’re just starting out or at the top of our field that we can always learn something.