Last week, I was involved in a serious conversation with a colleague. In the heat of the convo, he asked a question to which he knew the answer to just so he’ll find out if indeed I truly knew it. After critically considering the question, I began beating about the bush in response. Truth is, I wasn’t very much familiar with the answer, and having given off an impression of knowing, I knew I couldn’t ‘fall my hands’.
When he saw that I was going round and round in response, he remarked, ‘there’s no shame in admitting that you don’t know.’
I was momentarily taken aback by that statement and then I decided to come out clean; after all, admitting to one case of not knowing will not degrade my intelligence. So, I asked him to tell me what the answer was.
I wasn’t prepared for what came next. It was as though he let out the initial statement as bait to draw me into his net. He made me feel comfortable with not knowing, and after admitting so, he ridiculed the fact that I didn’t know.
It was very terrible. It felt like I was the most foolish person on earth. I’m certain that you too must have passed through a similar experience, maybe worse, who knows?
But guess what?
I stumbled upon a quote that said while going through the WhatsApp statuses of some persons in my contact list just a few days ago. It read: “the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it’s the illusion of knowledge.”
Frankly speaking, I don’t like admitting that I don’t know. The teachers I had while growing up made it seem like a crime if you didn’t know the answer to their question. It was almost like they expected you to know everything. This was the same mentality I grew up with and looking at how it has affected me today, I’ve come to understand that this is very wrong.
No man is an island of knowledge. There are so many things you and I don’t know, and while we can only attempt to know them, we can’t do anything about those things as long as we don’t know them. So, why stress it?
Paraphrasing the quote, it’s better to accept that you don’t know than to claim that you know. That in itself is the greatest enemy of knowledge.
It doesn’t matter what others may say about you, it doesn’t matter how they may label you. In the end, you’ll get to know and that knowledge will make you a better person.
So, what should you do when you don’t know?
1. Admit that you don’t know.
While I can’t guarantee you that it is very easy to admit you don’t know a thing or that you’ll not be looked down on if you make the admission, I can guarantee you that admitting you don’t know prepares you for knowledge so long as you have the right mindset.
2. Be willing to know what you don’t know.
While some knowledge is not for everybody—the stylist doesn’t have a business with the knowledge of the intricate structural design of a rocket launcher—you must be willing to find out the truth about certain things that concern you.
Take, for example, you’re this same stylist and you don’t know why black is an important colour of style, have you seen that you must seek out this knowledge because it directly affects you?
3. Be open-minded to accept new information.
Some people are just too stubborn. They hold on to what they think is correct, even when it is proven without a doubt that such knowledge is wrong.
It is not enough for us to accept we don’t know and still dwell in the fact that we don’t know; after all, ‘it’s okay not to know, isn’t it?’ No.
Equally, it’s still not enough for us to accept to be schooled in what we don’t know but thereafter, vehemently refuse to accept the new information that is passed across to us.
That said, we must make the necessary adjustments.
Remember, it is only okay not to know when you:
• Admit you don’t know
• Decide to know what you don’t know, and;
• Accept the new information you previously did not know.
Don’t let anyone shame you for your ignorance of knowledge. Similarly, don’t act as though you know something when you don’t know it.
But if you feel that it is too humiliating for you to admit you don’t know a particular thing, you can try out this trick I employ:
“Whenever I’m faced with something I don’t know, I make quick research to acquaint myself with the basic knowledge of the subject. Once this is done and I can say a thing or two about that particular thing, I go deeper in search of the information that I may have missed during my quick search. By doing so, I become better versed in that matter and ultimately become a better person.
“However, in a case where I cannot get the basic information about the subject, I swallow my ego and admit that I don’t know. Then I open up my head and mind as I seek to know.”
You too can do the same!
You too can know even when you don’t know.
Remember, the greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.
Do have a knowledgeable week!
Don’t forget to come back next Monday for another dose of Monday Inspiration!