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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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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:

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.

  • Admit your ignorance
  • Figure...

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 th...

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...

  • 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 your shortcomings, and commit to a long-term plan. You may need to extend beyond your comfort zone.

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