The Enemy of Growth and Learning

“Zeno would also say that nothing is more hostile to a firm grasp on knowledge than self-deception.”


By sheer fact that you’re on this website, reading this article, I’m going to assume that you’re looking to learn and grow. You’re aiming to increase your understanding of the human condition, gain a better grasp on yourself and what motivates you, and how to use philosophy in that pursuit. You’re trying to become a better person, and to unlock your full potential.

Well there’s one thing that will block you from that goal. One thing that will absolutely stymie your efforts and waste your time, and bring your progress to a standstill. And that is self-deception: convincing yourself that you already know things that you don’t really, and that you already have skills that you haven’t actually mastered.

That’s why lying to yourself is so dangerous — it robs you of an honest understanding of your current capabilities, and therefore you don’t have a clear understanding of what you need to do next. Self-deception is the enemy of growth and learning because it obscures your path forward.

The entry in The Daily Stoic book today includes a quote from Epictetus: “It is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

Don’t be that guy. Don’t let your ego and your big head get in the way of an honest, humble understanding of where your weaknesses lie, and where you need to improve. Look yourself right in the eye, give yourself an honest assessment, and refuse to lie to yourself.

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