Intentional Thinking Day 14: Admit What You Don’t Know

Maybe I’m just a cynic, but some days, I look around and think to myself, ‘Humility is in short supply.’ I see so many people pretending to have it all together, afraid to ask for help and to admit when they don’t know something.

Honestly, I get it. Humility can be frightening because it requires vulnerability, and when we are vulnerable, we open ourselves up to possible negative reactions from others. We fear that they will think us unknowledgeable, unprepared, or incompetent.

But what if we shift our focus from the negative responses that might arise to the positive responses that are equally probable? What if, instead, we imagine that others will view us as humble, authentic, and willing to learn?

Not that what anyone else thinks matters anyway, but if you’re concerned about your image, trying to please the latter group will likely benefit YOU more than trying to save face in front of the haters.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey explains that growth requires ignorance. I find this true. Think about it. When you humble yourself and admit that you don’t know something, you are likely to begin a journey to know it. You will research, ask questions, and listen to the experts. Then, you will grow.

When you pretend to know something that you do not know, then you’re stuck. You’re less likely to learn and to grow and more likely to be found out, eventually. If you do manage to learn, you have to do it the hard way, when you could have much more quickly gotten the answer by asking for it. Then you find yourself behind where you could have been.

Don’t limit or delay your growth because of pride. Admit what you don’t know. Believe it or not, there are people who actually want to help you.

Challenge: If this is a struggle of yours, try admitting that you don’t know something the next time the opportunity presents itself. If it feels too risky or daunting, try saying, “I don’t know yet, but I’ll find out.”

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