What Happens When You Think You Know Everything?
This particular question is playing out all around me lately – in the press, on television, in my church, with my spouse, in conversations with my friends, and yes, in my work.
Let me be blunt: You don’t know everything – you can’t know everything – and what you do know is your unique viewpoint based on where you are, what you believe, someone else’s story and what you assume. It may be wrong! Yes, you heard me. It may be wrong, and you are traveling on thin ice.
Here’s what may, and often does, happen when you think you know everything:
- You think everyone thinks, feels and judges people just like you do. And, because you fear that , you can’t be yourself, but must wear a mask.
- You fail to ask questions and often don’t listen.
- You fail to speak clearly about your own thoughts and feelings, and expect others to know what you want.
- You don’t even try to understand the other person’s viewpoint.
- Your decisions are based on agreements you made with others in the past rather than what is in front of you today.
- You don’t take in the possibility that both (or many) of you may be right, and there is something to be learned and expanded upon.
- You take things personally, you blame, and you create big dramas for no reason at all.
- You start talking to other people about your viewpoint – making judgments and gossiping – rather than talking directly to the person you disagree with. You spread poison.
- If you think you know everything, and someone has a different viewpoint, you feel the need to make them wrong.
- You don’t base your decisions in reality, but in your illusion of reality. You see what you want to see, and hear what you want to hear.
- You are willing to destroy relationships in order to defend your position.
What happens when you acknowledge your limited viewpoint, recognizing you don’t know everything?
- You are able to be yourself without fear because you know that not everyone thinks, feels and judges exactly the way you do.
- Communications become clear and knowledge becomes as complete as the number of people and sources you solicit for information. You begin to listen with your heart AND your mind.
- You begin to collaborate with others in making decisions. Creativity and growth occur that cannot happen within one person. Some call this the “third mind”.
- People feel acknowledged, accepted and know they have been heard. And yes, they even feel loved. Relationships are strengthened, not destroyed.
- No one is right or wrong, because you have taken the time to look at all sides, and perhaps create a third reality.
- Decisions are made in the present, with an eye toward the future. They aren’t made based upon something that occurred in the past.
It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. – John Wooden
This last thought I would like to share with you is probably the biggest one for me as I actively work to step into my power as a character-based leader:
Don’t give in to supporting someone’s “story” without looking at all sides. As a character-based leader, you know that their story comes out of their own beliefs and assumptions that are only true for them. Additionally, if the person telling the story proclaims their story as truth, with a total disregard for facts and other people’s viewpoints and feelings, they could very well be sharing limited and limiting information. Furthermore, most of the time when you are listening to others’ stories, you are listening to gossip. This is the poison that splinters and takes down teams at work, church communities, marriages, friendships, families – and sometimes nations. These are commonly called “hallway” or “parking lot” conversations – and they take place in small groups (in offices, hallways, parking lots, restaurants, over the telephone, on Facebook, Twitter, and in the media) rather than with the people who should be involved.
I am fortunate to have a number of people in my community at home, work and at play, who willingly enter into sharing thoughts and ideas in an effort to ensure that we all learn. In doing so, we often find that we have more common ground than we thought we did, while cheerfully agreeing to disagree in other areas. And, we find the next right step to take – together.
I am so blessed to not know everything. It forces me to reach out, ask questions, listen and to speak clearly. It also forces me to acknowledge the beliefs I hold that do not serve me well, and to actively step into the work of personal growth and leadership.
What great discoveries have you made when you acknowledged that you don’t know everything?
Georgia Feiste, President of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, and Phoenix, AZ, is a personal growth and leadership coach, writer, and workshop facilitator. She is also a Usui Reiki Master and EFT practitioner. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. You can also find Georgia on her website, Collaborative Transitions, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Georgia may also be reached at (402) 304-1902 if you wish to schedule a 30 minute complementary consultation.