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The power of "I don't know"

"I don't know" - those three words hold so much power, yet they are rarely used by leaders. The underlying assumption is that leaders are supposed to know, it's their job to have all the answers and solutions.


But admitting that you don't know something in front of your peers is an act of humility. When we utter those three dreaded words, our ego deflates, and our mind opens.


The problem is that in today's world of instant access to unlimited information, we are incentivized to master the art of bluffing our way through life. We “fake it until we make it,” but we mostly just keep faking it. We deliver definitive answers with conviction even when we have nothing more than two minutes of Wikipedia knowledge on an issue.


But the truth is, you can’t learn what you think you already know. When you pretend to know the answer, you not only fool other people, but you also fool yourself.


There’s a difference between the uncertainty that results from knowledge (from knowing what you don’t know) and the uncertainty that results from ignorance.

“I don’t know” shouldn’t mean “I don’t want to know.”


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