Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Knowing What You Know

I was invited to an introductory seminar this past Monday by some of my friends.  They were excited about their experience and wanted to share this with me.  I happily joined them for a unique, positive experience and during the course of the evening I learned a few things about myself.  Towards the end of the night, there was an interesting concept that they discussed, one that is not new, but good to revisit.  They talked in terms of 3 things – (1) Knowing what you know, (2) Knowing what you do not know, and (3) Not knowing what you do not know.  Yes, I know, it sounds like a tongue twister. 

To explain, I will use the example of music:
(1)    Knowing what you know – I know that I know how to play the piano.
(2)    Knowing what you do not know – I know that I do not know how to play the bagpipes, but I could take the time and learn this instrument.  Once I learn the bagpipes, it moves up into category (1)
(3)    Not knowing what you do not know – I asked my daughter, Gab, to help me with this one.  If you were to hand me an instrument that I never saw before, let’s say an Agogo; prior to that moment, it would be an instrument I did not know that I did not know.  Now that I know about this instrument, it moves up into category (2)

Being a fan of personal growth / development, this concept, at this point in my life intrigues me.  In the larger world, I am pretty confident that there is a lot that I have neither seen nor experienced, so I would expect the third category to be sizable.  When I first started reading the books that I currently read, I would read books that were recommended by other people (“Think and Grow Rich”, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, etc.), or authors (John C. Maxwell, Robin Sharma, etc.).  As I began to read through these books, most of them contained names of books or authors that were influences.  This led me to read new books and topics I previously did not know about.  Well, I might have known vaguely about them in a related way, but not specifics.  For example, a few years ago, I knew what a leader was, but not that there existed a whole philosophy / study behind this.  Similarly, I read a book about methods to influence people (sounded more like manipulating).  The book gave strategies that once you could identify someone covertly trying to influence you, there are maneuvers you can take to “cut off” unwanted influences. 

Living in a world where we are happy with knowing what we know and recognizing knowing what we do not know, we ensure that we remain at the place where we are at today.  Living in a world where we pursue things of interest in the things that we know we do not know, and learning / education ourselves, we expose ourselves to the things that we did not know we did not know, providing us with the opportunity for growth.