Why “I don’t know” can actually be the answer you need to everything you ever dreamed of and more.
In medicine, “I don’t know” isn’t always a welcome phrase. Concrete, evidenced-based answers are the gold standard and, at best, “I don’t know” should be followed by, “but I’ll look it up” or “but I’ll find out” or “but I will consult ____ to find out more.” All of these are appropriate and valid, helpful for the patient and for the growth of knowledge of that which has already been discovered, documented and decided.
But what about in a situation of growth? How could “knowing” in this way – based on established facts and past practices – actually be tremendously limiting?
When we are innovating, solving problems and expanding out focus, if we operate only from a place of “knowing,” the answers we generate will still be housed in old paradigms.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “there is no such thing as a new idea. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into sort of an idea kaleidoscope.” Perhaps there is opportunity to reconsider even that kaleidoscope from a new perspective in order to offer the necessary space to grow and discover.
If you are starting something new – a business, relationship, project, move, school – it can feel really scary to not know what to do next, what is coming next and you might find yourself paralyzed – not ready, willing or able to take the next step because you aren’t entirely sure what that is.
But what if it is PERFECT that you don’t know? What if not knowing means you are free of the limitations of your past experience and liberated to create any experience you’d like as you move through this new situation?
Imagine if you’ve been frustrated with work for most of your career and you’ve decided to launch your own business. If you are using that past framework to build this new business, you are crafting a foundation still intertwined with frustration. It makes sense to us to use what is familiar and perhaps make some modifications, but what if you could truly start anew and, instead of lukewarm adjustments that might improve your situation, you painted a picture of business like you’ve never before seen but would only hope to imagine.
You might ask questions like, “what was good about that past business?” and get some helpful answers. What if you asked, “what would be the most amazing thingsabout a place to work? Why haven’t they been done before?”
Think forward, not back. Reflect on the past to free yourself from it. Look to the future to get you where you want to be. Don’t let your wildest dreams depend on memories – allow them to be wide open, filled with curiosity, wonder and possibility.
You don’t have to know all the details to begin. You just have to know that you’re willing to figure it out. You just have to know that not knowing can be a door to more than you ever thought possible. You just have to know that you only have to think it possible for it to be so.