Discovering the things you don’t know you don’t know

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“Every person you meet knows something you don’t. Learn from them.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

There are more than 4,000,000 pages of content on Wikipedia today.

All the way back in 2006 there were more than 30,000,000 words being added to any part of Wikipedia every month. Even if you were to spend 16 hours a day, reading at an impossibly fast 600 words per minute, you still wouldn’t be able to catchup to the amount of content being added to the website on a daily basis.

It goes without saying: there is a lot that you and I don’t know.

Yet, for everything we don’t know, there’s at least one person – a handful of people – out there who do. All of those millions of words that are being added to Wikipedia every day are added by real people. People you could easily meet and collaborate with immediately, thanks to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr.

If we forget about Wikipedia or ebooks or documentaries for just a minute, we can realize that there are people in your life too that know quite a bit more about some things than you do. The opposite is true as well, of course: you know a lot that others may not.

As a creative, one of the best sources of inspiration and ideas you have access to is the society around you. Your friends and family, co-workers and acquaintances, strangers in cafes and librarians (remember those?), all have some type of knowledge that could be just what you need to be inspired.

So where do you start to access this vast amount of things you don’t know you don’t know? It all starts with asking questions and showing an interest in others.

If you want to be inspired regularly, make an effort to ask questions to the people you encounter every day. Ask them for their opinions and beliefs, for their ideas and dreams. There is always some tidbit of information you don’t know that somebody else does, go find it.

Original photo by James Cridland.