(FIND IT! BE IT! KEEP IT!)
It is fun to be dumb! Let me clarify. When I say dumb, I don’t mean lacking intelligence or good judgment. I mean to have the courage to step out from behind your title, your tenure, your degrees and your accreditations to admit you don’t have all the answers right now.
I volunteered on a school trip that my son’s class was taking to a local conservation area and I returned with a whole new appreciation for rocks. Before the trip I knew 2 things about rocks (1) it hurt if one hits you, (2) flat rocks are the best ones to skip on water. That was it! And now, I understand that the strength of a rock depends upon the mineral composite that makes up that rock. Seriously, I had no idea that rocks are just minerals forming together. I was amazed and fascinated. One question led to another question and the learning process was taking place. I even went home and googled rocks to learn more. It was almost as if I was a student.
Two weeks later I was sitting around the boardroom table for a client meeting discussing program results. They asked me a question that I did not have the answer to. I became paralyzed. Tense. Panic set in. The internal conversation started with Drill SGT (saboteur), and he kindly pointed out “you are losing your credibility”, so in a moment of haste I rambled off some corporate jargon to
show how smart I was. Something savvy like:
“based on our historical data analysis of TiM and RoB we found to leverage the ROI we must identify the gaps with OOS and OH”
Sounds fancy right? Let’s hope it was abstract enough to confuse the audience in believing I was super smart.
What happened? What was different about being in the boardroom and exploring the conservation area? It was me. I was different. In the boardroom I needed to be smart and right. At the conservation area I was comfortable with not knowing.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to have all the right answer at a moments notice that we miss our learning moments. Listen, you can’t know everything, it’s impossible. I just Googled “things I should know”, and it provided me with 2,090,000,000 results. Seriously Google? Who has that kind of time?
Admittedly, there is a base level of knowledge you require to BE IT! – and the information you attain is relevant to your IT!. Based on my experience, most people have a strong handle on 70% of that information. Which means the other 30%…well, you get to be dumb about! Because you don’t know…YET! There is the key, a small but powerful word. YET!
When we are confident in not knowing and have the curiosity to find out, we actually learn more. We become more knowledgeable by embracing our lack of knowledge. And here’s the kicker, people gravitate to people who admit to not having the answer and distance themselves from those who try to BS!
I challenge you to be dumb today. Embrace the 30%. Admit you don’t know. Ask questions. Be open and curious.
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