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The Power of I Don't Know

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https://medium.com/@williamkoehrsen/the-power-of-i-dont-know-590ab40d1995

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The Power of I Don't Know
Intellectual humility is not a weakness but a strength The phrase "I don't know" has almost disappeared from our discourse. From the job applicant who must claim to have mastered 100 different skills to politicians who need to have a confident opinion on every news event, the modern world does not encourage people to admit when they lack knowledge or skills.

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Acknowledging our ignorance

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.

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The Dangers of Certainty

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 tau...

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We feign certainty

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 million...

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Two Kinds of "I Don’t Know"

  • 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...

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A growth mindset

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...

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Desiring a growth-driven mindset

  • The defeatist mindset is easy and natural: You don't have to do anything and can stay in your current position.
  • The growth-driven mindset requires you to admit you...

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"I don't know"

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 ...

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Narcissists believe they're unique and superior, while humble leaders know they're flawed. 

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Narcissism and confidence

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.

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Six levels of critical thinkers

Six levels of critical thinkers

Researchers identified six predictable levels of critical thinkers:

  • The unreflective thinker
  • The challenged thinker
  • The beginner thinker
  • The practicing think...

The Unreflective Thinker

These are people who don't reflect on thinking nor consider the consequences of not thinking. Their prejudices and misconceptions lead them.

They do not consistently apply standards like accuracy, relevance, precision, and logic.

The Challenged Thinker

People at this intellectual stage are aware of the importance of thinking and know that the lack of thinking can result in major issues.

  • They acknowledge that their own mental processes might have many flaws but are unable to identify all the weaknesses.
  • They may spot some instances of their own self-deception.
  • They may have a sense that proper thinking involves navigating assumptions, inferences, and points of view, but only on a basic level.

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Benefits of Being Wrong

  • Accepting vulnerability
  • Embracing a learning mind
  • Opening to new possibilities
  • Prioritizing self-growth over reputation.

We default to being rig...