“I don’t know.”
Those are three very powerful words. They help us to explore new territory, push past boundaries, and face our fears.
Admitting that you “don’t know” allows you to be more creative than those who do. The naivety of not knowing makes it easier to overcome difficult problems, because you don’t know whether or not the ideal outcome is possible yet. You’ll explore and tinker until the pieces fall into place or don’t, whereas experts won’t even attempt to explore because they already know what’s possible and what’s not. To quote author Steven Farmer: “With no expectations anything can become.” Not knowing is a creative asset, it should be pursued and harnessed.
Of course, not knowing can be a hinderance to productivity as well.
Not knowing means you know that you’re going to make mistakes. It means that you’re walking into a moment that is both cold and dark, where you’re not sure whether you can come out on the other end or not. Not knowing can be paralyzingly frightening.
It’s those who are able to push pass the fear of the unknown that reap the rewards.
Sure, you might fail, you might reach a dead-end, you may even temporarily embarrass yourself. But if the alternative is to discover completely new solutions, to learn more and expand your potential, to do what nobody else is doing, it seems that not knowing what you’re doing (and doing it anyway) is worthwhile anyway.
You’re facing your fears when you admit “I don’t know,” you’re also embarking on a quest to do something very much worthwhile.
Photo by Andreas Overland.