So much in life depends on conviction. It’s often true that what you say matters less than how you say it. A politician will not win an election unless the voters believe in his or her campaign promises. How many of us will take the time, or have the wherewithal to check on the validity of his platform? We take his word for it based on gut feelings.
When I lived in New York I would often go to my neighborhood bar to watch the Monday night football games. One of the regulars, John, was an affable local hipster who was able to pontificate on any subject in great detail. He used to regale us with tales of the gold standard, foreign policy, and outrageous political conspiracy theories. I would nod good-naturedly and let him go on, a little skeptical, but not wanting to cause a fuss in this affable setting.
One day he told us that the saxophonist Sonny Rollins had written the composition, A Night In Tunisia, and during the recording he had played a famous four bar break that was since unequaled. I happen to know that Tunisia was written by Dizzy Gillespie and that the famous four bar break was played by Charlie Parker. John had told the story with such confidence that nobody but a jazz aficionado could contradict him. It was the same tonality he had used while discussing politics and finance.
Today I came across a clip of the Today Showfrom 1994 in which Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric discussed this new craze called “the internet.” To their credit they did not try to pretend that they knew what it was, but notice the conviction they used when asserting certain “facts.” For instance Couric stated that people had used the internet to communicate when the phone lines went out after the Northridge earthquake. “I thought you needed a phone to connect to the internet,” Gumble asked. “No,” Katie replied. But of course this was years before wireless connections were available. The number of people who would have been able to get online without a modem would have been negligible.
I have come to the conclusion that half of the battle of life is convincing people that you know what you’re talking about. Mix in one-quarter of ability, and one-quarter of luck and you’ll have a successful life.