As a child I recall my parents, teachers, babysitters or other adults asking me questions where my response quite often was “I don’t know.”
– Why did you shave the cat?
– Why didn’t you do your homework?
– Who ate the dog food?
– What’s wrong with you?
– How did a bowl of macaroni and tang end up in the fridge?
– What are you going to do with your life?
– Why is there a chicken sitting on the couch?
My answer to all of the above ~
– “I don’t know.”
Then their response would be;
– “I don’t know,” is not an answer.
So, I’d be forced to make up some phoney-baloney answer about why I did something or why something happened. Even though the correct answer really was “I don’t know.”
Fast forward a couple decades and this “have-to-have an answer” programming, has gotten some of us into trouble as adults. We turned into “know it alls” who were taught to always come up with an answer or at least pretend we had one.
** believe me, when we try to camouflage the fact that we don’t know; people know we don’t know.**
This behaviour can then manifest into some people believing they do know more or better than the ones who really do (when clearly they do not). They can become dismisses of the opinions, comments, or suggestions of others, they may even blurt out random facts or answer questions that haven’t been asked, to demonstrate their astute knowledge on a range of topics. And thus, a new “know it all”is born.
I was in my mid thirties by the time I realized we ain’t fooling anybody when we play the game of know-it-all. We come off as rude, smug, arrogant or flippant.
None of us have ALL the answers.
We’re not supposed too. Knowledge of our own ignorance is a sign of wisdom and growth. According to Socrates, knowing that we know nothing – is both a sign of humility and perhaps genius.
So rather than teach our children that they must have answers, let’s teach them to ask questions, to listen and gain other insights and perspective to make sure they understand. This approach may breed more tolerance, compassion, understanding, acceptance and cooperation. (and wow, our world needs more of all that right now.)
There’s a sense of freedom and vulnerability when we utter the words “I don’t know” or when we lean into another person and say;
“Can you help me figure this out”
“I don’t understand,”
“Tell me more.”
The best leaders I’ve worked for were the ones who did more listening than talking. They asked for advice, admitted when they didn’t know, we’re constantly reading, learning and sharing what they knew. These leaders surrounded themselves with people who thought differently than they did and offered different perspectives.
Its not the job of a good leader to “know it all,” it’s their job to build a tribe of diverse individuals who bring a unique experience and wisdom to the collective. We should live our daily lives the same way, appreciating those that look, think and are different than us.
I found a message I had written in the margins of my 2001 journal, ( it’s what inspired this post) It read;
“Toni you’re smart, but if you ever think you know it all, remind yourself you don’t, you have some answers, but not all of them, when you’re lost, go find the ones that do.”
I thought back on 2001 trying to remember what might have prompted me to write that down. There were no real clues in my journal entry, so, the truth is “I don’t know.”
Love Toni 🌹❤️
**because I know you’re dying to know; The chicken (which turned out to be a rooster) was sitting on the couch because my younger sister had kidnapped it from school to save the poor thing from becoming a dissection project. 🐔❤️