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The Only Way to Know

January 24, 2012

One thing I’ve learned: It is only when I can openly not know that I stand any chance of knowing. Pick the subject – doesn’t matter – and this holds true for me.

I recently got a question about Wisegate from a reporter that went something like this: Don’t you think most people are reluctant to admit they don’t know all the answers?

Well, people do ask each other questions on Wisegate — and share experiences that help solve problems. This is an important part of why we are here. And yes, I can sense in some people a reluctance to admit they don’t have all the answers.

I witness that the people who are willing to ask questions and admit that they don’t know are the ones who gain the most knowledge and wisdom (they might also be having the most fun). One member recently said to me, “Wisegate saves me time and makes me look like a genius!” He is one of our most active askers. Funny – his being willing to not know and to ask questions makes him look like a genius. Hmmm…

This has gotten me to thinking about the power of not knowing. When do we learn the most in our lives?

  • When we are children. Before we have the expectation of having it all together, or having the “right answer.”
  • When we are willing to try something new. By definition when we try something new, we will not be experts. We will be beginners. And we will learn.
  • When we feel curious and simply driven to discover.

But we block ourselves from learning when we think we know the answers. And if we aren’t learning, are we fully living?

I have learned a lot by experimenting and experience and study, and perhaps I have earned the right to say “I know” in a few areas of life. For example, I have been working on my baked ziti recipe for years, probably a decade. So I can now say that I know how to make a mean baked ziti. And yet, surely a new tip or method will come my way that will once again improve my ziti. Same goes for roast chicken. Same goes for seeking God.

It is only when I can admit willingly and openly that I don’t know that I truly open to new knowledge and new possibilities.

Try an experiment with me (I love experiments – with life as my petri dish). Step back from something you think you know well and let yourself not know. Be curious. Consider new angles. Ask questions. See what comes of the experience.

And in one of my next posts, I’ll highlight an example from Wisegate of how knowing can rob you of opportunities.

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