Phew. There. I said it. Painful as it has been lately.
I’ve always prided myself on having no shame or fear of asking question after question, admitting my ignorance on a new topic, or being the ‘naive’ guinea pig in a group willing to ask the ‘dumb’ question.
But lately as I’ve been blessed with new opportunities in my career, I’m having to remind myself once again, and more importantly than ever before, it’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
I have to remind myself that I didn’t get here because I knew it all, but instead because I never stop asking questions. Ever.
And the new challenges awaiting you in any job aren’t ones that you should know the answer to on day one or even week one.
Well, maybe some of them are… the slam dunks.
But the hard ones? The ones that matter? Those require a humbly inquisitive approach if you ever have a prayer of effectively gathering enough information to find the answer that matters as much as the problem does… At least in my humble, inquisitive opinion.
Unfortunately, the alternatives to balance things out do me no good… My hair still hasn’t turned grey, my crows feet are only just now kicking in and my attitude wreaks of “kid at heart” in every way possible, all of which aren’t often good things in business.
So, waiting on my looks or attitude to change to give me instant ‘experience’ and thus credibility, specifically with the intent to balance out my admission of ignorance when saying those three lovely little words… it’s just not going to happen any time soon.
So, time to suck it up. Time to be the moron.
I’ve simply got to be okay with the fact that I still look “inexperienced” even 30 still three months away, even though that used to sound old as hell. And I have a giddy passion for many things expressed similarly to that of a 3rd grader.
So, now more than ever, I need to be comfortable and confident enough to continue to say I don’t know. Hard as that may be.
I’ll admit it – I get nervous every time I say it. I fear I ‘should’ know what I don’t. But that’s the same fear that keeps so many people from reaching their full potential.
And ironically, the day I discontinue using the phrase I don’t know… the day I idiotically either presume or pretend to know what I most certainly can never know enough about (aka everything)… That will also be the day I no longer will have to worry about looking young or inexperienced in my job.
That’s the day I stop growing. That’s the day the HR box labeled “Doneski” or “Peter Principle Case Study” is checked.
So, darn it, as much as my prideful ego resists it, I’ll gladly continue to be the idiot.
And at the end of the day, I guess somebody has to be willing to ask the question so that everyone else can pretend to have already known the answer…
As the Chinese Proverb says:
He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
So it goes.
Keko Keeper of the Raised Hand