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The Power of I Don't Know

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 millions on an ineffective advertising campaign because they refused even to ask if it was working.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Power of I Don't Know

The Power of I Don't Know

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

medium.com

7

Key Ideas

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.

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 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 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 millions on an ineffective advertising campaign because they refused even to ask if it was working.

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 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.

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 forming a plan to get to your goal.

  • Admit your ignorance
  • Figure out what you want to learn
  • Make a plan to learn the skills or knowledge.
  • Execute on the plan one step at a time

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

"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 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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Adding humility to narcissism prevents capriciousness and complacency. It helps you remember that you’re human.

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Even if we might tell ourselves our experience of the world is the truth. Our interpretations of reality are often arbitrary, but we're still stubborn about them. Light enters our eyes, sound waves enter our ears, chemicals waft into our noses, and it’s up to our brains to make a guess about what it all is. 

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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.
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There’s no shame in admitting you don't know something; you’re showing just how confident you can be. Ask questions, be curious about the world around you.

The confident man is calm

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Attentional Capital (AC)
AC=a measurement used to calculate how we arrive at a place of knowledge.
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  • A low AC: you reactively believe whatever comes across your news feed and hold onto your beliefs in a dogmatic and tribal manner.

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Pride stunts our growth

True humility allows you to plot Point A and accept that risk and failure are part of moving to Point B.

  • On the other hand, pride allows us to say we are beginners, but not to accept the process of learning that involves risk and failure. 
  • Then pride tries to protect our ego by convincing us that the price of possible failure is too great to achieve something new.
Humility and growth

Humility brings growth. Pride is good at trying to convince us that we are not prideful.

Approach learning and growth with real humility. Accept that pride affects us all and will try to limit you. Failure is part of the process. Set aside your ego and simply move past the failure. Make adjustments, and continue the process anew.

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Nonverbal communication

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So commit to strong, positive body language and make a conscious effort to form habits that make your nonverbal communication automatic.

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The People You Respect

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