Admitting What You Don’t Know

August 6, 2012

@work

pooh bear
“’Well,’ said Owl, ‘the customary procedure in such cases is as follows.’
‘What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean?’   said Pooh.
‘For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me.’
‘It means the Thing to Do.’
‘As long as it means that, I don’t mind,’ said Pooh humbly.’”

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 1926

Would your week look different if you decided to approach every conversation as though you were a student of the person sitting across from you?

What would happen if you didn’t share your thoughts first, but rather, let others talk before you?

Imagine shutting down that voice in your head–the one that is figuring out your response to the person while the person is still talking?

How about killing that habit of finishing other people’s sentences?

Can you picture a day where you stop being the expert and instead sit in the position of the amateur?

Many of us expend a crazy amount of energy positioning ourselves as people who have a handle on “the situation,” who are in control of circumstances, who can deal with whatever pressure comes our way.  Even when our heart is racing and the world feels overwhelming, we put on a stoic face so we will appear calm.  We don’t like to admit when we aren’t tracking with the conversation or don’t understand a concept.

We like to be Owl, not Winnie-the-Pooh.

And yet,  as any child who knows the character in A.A. Milne’s book can tell you, Owl tries too hard to be smarter than everyone else.  Owl is a poser and, worse yet, not much fun.

In contrast, those who are loved and admired are often revered because of their authenticity.  One of the hallmarks of authenticity is a willingness to admit what you don’t know and to be humble enough to learn from others.

What would your week look like if you decide to acknowledge those times when you were “a bear of very little brain”?

Give it some thought.  See if humility can be part of this weeks “Crustimoney Proseedcake.”

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