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Although we are naturally curious as children, school teaches us that there is a specific set of facts to memorize and that we should not question these facts. If we don't know something, we're taught to guess.
Once the curiosity has been driven out of us in school and we're moving into the workforce, we're even less likely to say we don't know.
We're afraid to admit when we don't know something for sure and expect not to see uncertainty in others. It can be disastrous.
Consider the case in which a business spent hundreds of millions on an ineffective advertising campaign because they refused even to ask if it was working.
The defeatist mindset: When you admit you don't know enough to do a task and think someone else should do it. Here "I don't know" is an excuse for not completing a task and prevents you from learning new skills.
A growth-driven mindset: When you admit that you don't know enough to do a task and respond that you don't know, but would enjoy the opportunity to learn. This attitude allows you to learn something new, possibly earn yourself a promotion, and open up more opportunities due to the new skill.
Acting on the growth-driven mindset requires the ability to see where you are now (what you don’t know), where you would like to be in the future (what you want to learn), and then forming a plan to get to your goal.
Saying I don't know is an admission of power: You'll be wrong less often, and it will lead to more considerable improvement.
If saying "I don't know" is too difficult, rephrase it terms of intellectual humility. "I don't know how to program" becomes "Learning to program is next on my list." But being truthful is really best because you don't have to maintain a facade of lies.
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The humble narcissist has grand ambitions but doesn't feel entitled to them. He is also willing to acknowledge his weaknesses and learn from his mistakes.
We're all drawn to someone who shows confidence - that is the reason that narcissists are more likely to be promoted or get elected to political office. But on its own, narcissism is dangerous. It tends to promote overconfidence and it dismisses the criticism.
Adding humility to narcissism prevents capriciousness and complacency. It helps you remember that you’re human.
Although we usually see our weaknesses as more changeable than our strengths, research shows that we should not focus on improving our weak parts, but to develop our strengths.
Try to see your strengths in relation to what energizes you. Something is a strength if:
It's difficult for us to see our own strengths, but people around us (friends, coworkers, family members, mentors) will most likely see them clearly.
The goal is to identify things that you wouldn't have thought of on your own—or to find patterns.