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Monday, July 18, 2011

Know what You Don't Know

One of the most dangerous things you can do is to pretend that you know what you don't know. But, for some reason, we do this all the time. If someone asked you if you know how to repair high tension electric wire, what would you say? Hopefully you would tell them that you don't know so that you aren't asked to risk your life doing something you've never learned. But the problem comes when we're not willing to admit our lack of knowledge in other areas. We pretend to know things so that we won't look foolish. We fake knowledge about fine cuisine around connoisseurs. We pretend to know what the guy at the car shop is saying. We act like we know what we don't.

But then you're called on to recommend a fine restaurant. You're on the hook for making a decision about your car repair. And you don't know. Now you can't back out. You have to save face by sticking to your bad decision. It's dangerous to not know but act like you do.

Repeat after me: "I don't know." Good. Keep saying that, or change it up, if you want. Say: "I'll need to research that." or "I'm not sure, tell me more about that."

So, here's the moral of the story: too many people think they know how to use PowerPoint because they can open the software and start entering bullet points. That's like saying you know how to paint because you can put a brush on canvas. Artistry takes time and work, so does using PowerPoint well. Admit that you don't know and then ask for help. Hey, I know of a place where you could get started (hint, it's right here).

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