Evidence Isn’t Enough

I remember when I first realized I wanted to write a blog.

I had no evidence that anyone would like it.  No evidence that it would be any good.

I just knew that I felt like I would succeed.  A part of me was confident that people would be interested in the things I wrote.  They would connect with me.

I had no following at that point.  No “likes” or “subscribers”.  No shares, no SEO giving hits to things I had already done.  Certainly nothing I had done had ever gone viral… mostly because I hadn’t done anything.

But part of me just knew this was meant for me.  And fueled by encouragement from my rabbi and inspired by my trip to study Judaism in Israel, I made it happen.

It wasn’t this blog.  It was called “The Eternal Emergence Of Elad The Great” (It’s okay, you can laugh at me), and it was my first attempt.

I’ll always look back at that moment with a sort of admiration.  An admiration of the person who had this sort of confidence to just go out and do something, even though there was absolutely no proof, no evidence that it would succeed.

Today, more and more, we live in a data-driven reality.  Marketers, the media, VC’s, and more, are increasingly relying on data to move their actions (Upworthy, for example, uses data to constantly tweak its content to be the most shareable, the most engaging, etc).  The results have been stunning: the people who use data well have a huge leg up over the competition (Again: Upworthy).

Societally we’ve also become much more evidence-focused.  There’s the creed of the atheist, becoming more and more popular: “If there’s no evidence for G-d, stop telling me he exists!  This is your burden to prove.”

I can’t help thinking about my experience starting off as a blogger when I hear about data more and more in the work that I do and the people I interact with.  Because what was so interesting was that, although I admire myself back then, I basically made a choice to make a big commitment, take a big risk, with absolutely no data to back it up.  There was no evidence at all that I would succeed.  As I mentioned, no followers, likes, or subscribers.

There was just me, an idea, and the confidence it took to make the idea happen.

And without that confidence in something with absolutely no proof that it could succeed, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  I wouldn’t be working on my favorite project of all time, this blog.

Almost all successful bloggers I know of approached their work similarly.  They plunged into it, knowing that they would succeed, but with absolutely no proof of it.  Very few bloggers “just happened” to succeed without any desire for it.  Almost all of them have a deep desire to be widely read.

This is true of others as well: everyone from successful entrepreneurs to artists to Olympic gold medalists.

If any of us, anyone that ever tried to do something from scratch, that felt they could succeed without any evidence, listened to the data and tried to approach our lives “scientifically”, we wouldn’t be where we are.

It’s at this point that we need to acknowledge there is another ingredient to success, to reaching our dreams, to being who we are meant to be, and ultimately making the world a better place: confidence.

Confidence means creating something from nothing.  It means thinking you are great even when no one thinks you are yet.  It means believing that you have value even when all evidence so far says that you don’t.

In other words: confidence is faith.  Faith in yourself.  And faith in something even deeper than yourself: an objective truth.  An objective truth that says, “You’re a writer,” or “Your business will succeed,” or, “You’re going to achieve your goal if you trust me.”

Confidence is faith.

And it is through faith that so many great things were accomplished.  It is the way Steve Jobs was able to turn the world inside out with just a vision.  It is the way Van Gogh was able to continue to create beauty even though no one paid him for his work.  And it is the way Moshe (Moses) was able to split the Reed Sea.

For all these people, there was no evidence that they’d succeed.  They had to have faith.

And while the world moves ever-faster towards a reliance on data, it will be the ones who are able to see beyond the data and into faith in objective truth that will truly change the world.  And live the lives they were always meant to live.





One response to “Evidence Isn’t Enough”

  1. Avi Wollman Avatar
    Avi Wollman

    I’d agree with the general sentiment of the piece, that it is vital to have the courage to succeed even without the assurance of past experience. I think the comparison with the data-driven culture is well made; unlike a VC, one has too much to lose by not investing in oneself!

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