Most of us suspect that most of the time ignorance is not bliss. It is disabling and potentially dangerous. Of course there are situations where we are better off not knowing (Tom Cruise in Top Gun comes up with that famous line “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you!”) but if we are honest such situations are few and far between.
So how is it that, as we grow older we tend to assume we know enough?
Well, its not quite like that. It isn’t so much that we assume we know enough, it is that our preference shifts towards ‘telling’ – providing others with information we perceive they need, or maybe we need to demonstrate we know. Research indicates that babies and little children are designed to take information in – ‘asking’ – and assume it is the truth without questioning it. What experience of life to they have to do anything else?
As we grow into teenage years towards adulthood, we want to question everything, in the process discovering what WE believe to be the way the world is, OUR world view, OUR opinion. for the first time we discover that adults can be wrong, that their opinions are just that – their opinions – and that ours might be just as relevant, maybe better, but at least they’re OURS. Any parent of teenagers knows what it is like to have to adjust to this new phase and give space for their youngsters to test what they’ve learnt (and woe betide anything that doesn’t stand the test!)
As adults we usually feel safer when we sense people know we know. “Knowledge is power.”
However, being in a position of ‘Knowing’ (and then telling) means we can become defensive, fending off challenges to the ‘knowledge’ we have gained, not least because we paid a very high price for some of it. That position of ‘Knowing’ stops us learning more as we direct any input through the filter of our own previous experience to see whether the incoming info, or more likely the person conveying it, is Right or Wrong (do they agree with me? Right. Do they disagree? Wrong.) The trouble is, these days the knowledge we so determinedly hold onto is often out of date, irrelevant or simply no longer true.
An important shift takes place in our psychology when we rediscover childlike (not childish) curiosity. In Powerchange we call it ‘moving to a Position of Enquiry’ and it makes all the difference. Here are some benefits:
- You learn much faster. When you don’t have to check out the rights and wrongs all the time you learn closer to the learning speed of a child… ie, fast!
- Your attitude to the world becomes less combative, more embracing. Collaboration, not competition, becomes more of a norm.
- You start to feel more secure. Your sense of safety is no longer based on the very limited ‘know-it-all’ foundation, and moves to a much more rewarding ‘thankfully-don’t-NEED-to-know-it-all” base.
- You can relax. Relationships with others improve when they don’t need to get through the barrier of your insecurity to reach you. Connections improve with those who can provide you with the info you need, so you learn even more.
- You feel less compelled to pass on your priceless knowledge to all and sundry, and learn to listen to them instead. Not that many people over the age of eight or ten listen that honestly.
- You stay up to date and more in touch with the world around you.
- The motive you have for asking questions changes from one of checking the other person out to a more profitable one of being interested in what they have to contribute with the world.
So how curious are you? I guess someone coming from a Position of Knowing will answer “Very curious.” Someone in a Position of Enquiry is more likely to say, “That’s an interesting question! The truth is, I’ve no idea! I wonder, what do I need to be curious about right now?”
We have a cleverly designed pack to help you be curious. It’s called Questions that Change Your Mind and costs £15.00 post free. It has 32 questions you’ve probably not even thought of asking yourself, perfect for one a day for a month. You will also learn HOW to ask yourself the question to get the best result. And you’ll be able to help others to get beyond the crippling Position of Knowing and enjoy a refreshing new approach to the world.
So what do you imagine that will be like?
And if you get stuck, get in touch. I’m here to help.