Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

It's OK to Admit Not Knowing Something

A set of letter blocks spelling out 'IDK'

Recently, a friend of mine started using a relatively complex piece of software. And, to be honest, I’m currently pitying both his computer and the software he’s using.

Why? When he can’t do something or if the software doesn’t work in the way he expects it to, my friend goes ballistic. A long, nasty, and often creative stream of profanities spews from his mouth. I’m sure his blood pressure rises to unsafe levels.

While it’s true that my friend has (and always has had) a few issues keeping his anger under control, that’s not the only reason for his outbursts. He just doesn’t know all of the ins and outs of the software. That lack of knowledge frustrates him and any time someone brings that lack of knowledge up, he just gets angrier.

Like many people in today’s world, my friend believes it’s a sign of weakness to admit that he doesn’t know how to do something. He thinks that it’s a negative to show that he’s not supremely competent in everything he does, regardless of how long he’s been doing it.

He’s wrong.

As I’ve written and said in the past, no one knows or can know everything. We all have gaps in our knowledge and skills. There are areas and subjects outside of our experience, no matter how vast that experience may be.

When we encounter something new, we automatically start learning (whether we realize it or not). Often, we learn enough to get by because that’s all we need. When that’s not enough, we need to go into more depth. And that’s when the frustration begins. It’s often a long, difficult slog to reach a higher level of competence or ability. A level of competence and ability we might have in other areas or with other tools or software.

My friend is in that situation right now. However, his approach to learning isn’t very efficient or effective. Instead of consulting the documentation and online sources of information (of which there are several), he’s plodding. He’s muddling through. He’s making a lot of mistakes, many of which aren’t productive. That’ plodding further fuels his frustration.

There are times when you need to accept and embrace your ignorance. You don’t need to feel ashamed or stupid or inferior if you don’t know something or how to do something. Remember that humans, you included, work best when they have opportunities to learn and to grow.

Look at not knowing something as one of those opportunities to learn and to grow. Life is full of those opportunities, so why not take advantage of them?

Thoughts? Let's start a conversation on Twitter.

Did you enjoy this post or find it useful? Then please consider supporting this blog with a micropayment via PayPal. Thanks!