I don’t know
Have you ever run into a situation where you didn’t know the answer? Of course you have; we all have. The power lies in how you relate to not knowing. A simple honest, “I don’t know”, followed up with, “but I’ll find out!”, is powerful. Below I’ll share with you three ways the power of “I don’t know” can have a powerfully positive effect.
Would you hire someone with little experience in your industry? The common answer is no, but why not? They might bring a fresh perspective to your company and industry that would very positive for your company. The concept of hiring for personality more than skills goes along with this idea. Sometimes doing things differently can bring refreshing and new results.
Here is a quote from Nils Skold:
My theory is this: when you know everything about an industry, you don’t know whats good for it. What an industry needs is people who have no idea on how it operates. People that don’t know that there are any rules. While it is good to break rules and to push boundaries, it’s much better to just never know that any rules exists.
When you are surrounded by the familiar ,you might not realize how bad it is there because it feels so comfortable to you. Getting a new perspective can really open your horizons which often leads to new opportunities that you never saw before.
How about a situation where a client asked you something and you didn’t have the answer. Did you feel nervous or insecure? If so, why, and if not, why? Yes, pause and think about those questions before you continue. A simple response, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out”, is natural and powerful and it give you another opportunity to get in touch with the client. I’ve used this approach numerous times and it has always worked out wonderfully. Besides it gives credibility to everything else you have said.
Third is the concept of approaching life with an, “I already know that”, attitude versus an awareness that there is always something more to know. Can you think of how these two approaches can lead to different outcomes? Just imagine trying to come up with new ideas in your area of expertise if you think you already know it all. Can you see how that attitude can limit your mind from being creative? On the flip side, if you consistently approach life realizing there is always another way to see things or another way to do things, you will be much more likely to come up with new ideas.
The Take Away
What’s the take away? Realize that not knowing can be a very positive thing as long as you are willing to learn and see things from a new perspective. You could also look at it as approaching life humbly rather than arrogantly.
Saying, “I don’t know”, can be liberating and when coupled with, “I’ll find out”, it’s powerful!
If you would like to dig deeper into this topic, I suggest a book by Leah Hager Cohen, “I don’t know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance (Except When You Shouldn’t)” and How “I Don’t Know” Can Make You An Authority in Your Industry.