Several years ago, when my son was a teenager, he worked in my company warehouse. I received the benefit of his insights about the company as well as his suggestions for improvements. Fairly often he would suggest that I take him to lunch, and though this meant spending more money then I normally would, the opportunity made me happy.
During one of our many lunch discussions he asked me, “Do you think of yourself as a confident person?” This was the day before I was scheduled to give a lecture at Green Gulch Farm (part of the San Francisco Zen Center, where about 200 people attend lecture each Sunday morning). He went on to say that he was trying to understand how I could be giving lectures, teaching, and running a company.
He saw me as somewhat quiet and shy and had a difficult time seeing me as a teacher. “After all, you’ve never taught me anything,” he blurted out. After my initial surprise at hearing these words, I teased him by responding that I had been planning a lecture series for him, which was scheduled to begin the following week.
I went on to explain that as a Zen teacher and as a businessman — and as a human being — my confidence, real confidence lies in the knowledge that I am certain of nothing. I have no idea where I came from or where I am going. I have no idea what will happen to my business in the future.