The noble pursuit of knowing.....



It occurred to me today that I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to deal with the things I don't know. The unknowns in my job, my relationships and the world at large (...Brexit?!!).


How can I be ready for it? How can I predict it? How do I have to adapt to survive in it? What is the impact of not knowing it? How do I know when I know enough about it?


I am all for knowing more about the world to enrich myself and grow. However, could this just be a never ending spiral? When do I stop trying to figure it out and say, 'Ahh thank goodness - now I'm ready to tackle any unknown' or concede that 'I know enough....'


I have seen people I know, including myself, experience the crippling effect of unknown unknowns - where you can imagine such a plethora of potential unknown scenarios it feels much safer to not move an inch - stay in the safety of what you know and just see what gets thrust upon you. For every new scenario you devise, there are a few more that bubble to the surface... further increasing the level of uncertainly that makes consciously moving even more daunting - we add to our list of newly created known unknowns.... will we ever know enough?


However, I got to thinking about theories on unknowns. Known knowns, unknown unknowns, known unknowns.......but wait a minute, I'm not seeing so much about unknown knowns. What if there were things that we knew, but just didn't realise?


We often define ourselves by the situation, job title or task that we are doing today - which makes any change feel like a wholesale leap into the unknown..no two situations, jobs or tasks are exactly the same in every respect. Our perception is coloured by all the things we don't know rather than the things we do.


But what if we asked ourselves 'What is it that enables me to do what I do today?'. Its not only about familiarity with the specifics of your situation - it may be about how you can pick through complex situations in an instant, how you can create something out of nothing, how you pick up new concepts at lightening speed, how you seem to be able to get on with anyone.Once you look at it this way, you just may realise that you have all the tools you need to deal with whatever may be thrown at you - so the leap may not be that big after all.


The next question is 'What have I already experienced?' - my guess is that you will have seen some politics, you have had to follow instructions and take them, achieved things alone or seen where you needed the help of others, had to be somewhere at a certain time to meet someone you hadn't met before,established the value to you for a product or service to 'negotiate' a fair price, assessed your 'customer' experience by rating a product and given feedback. It sounds simplistic, however these are all things that can be translated into any new environment.


And lastly, 'How much do I really need to know right now?' - a moment to really look at what I truly need to know to make the first step or if I am just getting caught in a spiral of knowing 'stuff' just for the sake of it.


So before we get daunted by the new and unknown, maybe stop and reflect - you may just find a whole heap of unknown knowns - things that just need to be pulled from the annals of your memory and repackaged into something that can make the unfamiliar seem just a little more friendly.


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