The modern world does not encourage people to admit when they lack knowledge or skills.
However, when we don't acknowledge our ignorance, we limit our chances for personal improvement.
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.
It means being actively curious about your blind spots. It’s not about lacking confidence, or self-esteem. It’s about entertaining the possibility that you may be wrong and being open to learning from the experience of others.
Researchers studied whether customer service employees were more productive under narcissistic or humble leaders.
The least effective bosses were narcissists. Humble bosses were a bit more productive. But the best leaders were a combination: the humble narcissists.