Dan Rockwell rocked my thinking when he said this.
Everything is remembering until someone says,
“I don’t know.”
Think about the statement, "I don't know". What does it mean in the ecosystem of traditional leadership? If we are honest with ourselves, we don't like making that statement especially when we are put on the spot or when it is something we should know. Just the thought of stating your ignorance makes you feel inadequate and unprepared, doesn't it? But here's the thing.
Learning can't occur without "I Don't Know".
The best learners don't avoid "I don't know". They embrace it. They look for it, and they run to it. The reason is simple. Learning can't occur unless you don't know, and authentic learning will never come to fruition unless the learner loves not knowing and wanting to find out.
As leaders we must reflect on our ability to capitalize on a collective lack of knowledge, for this vacuum of information is the blueprint for systemic improvement. Here are a few questions that can guide you to lead when you and others don't know.
- What are you doing to embrace not knowing?
- What are we doing to stop one another from judging and demonizing one another or those who don't know?
- How are we pushing others to find comfort in not knowing something, and using that comfort to seek information?
- How are we praising people on our team when they convert lack of knowledge into long-term learning that improves others?
- What are we doing to create a culture of learning where the goal is to transform "I don't know" into "Let me show you what I learned".
The Secret to Learning
The secret to learning is not found in our current knowledge. It is found in our accumulation of new knowledge that eventually enhances organizational efficacy. Does "I don't know" stop you in your tracks, or is it the starting point for excellence?
I'll choose the latter. How about you?