I have discovered a new land. Many others have discovered it before me. I’ll call it the realm of I DON’T KNOW. The only land I used to know of was the realm of I KNOW. But it seems to me that this new land is the only one that truly exists.
I KNOW is the realm of the superhuman: occupied by professionals who are paid to be experts and so cannot ever be (seen to be) wrong, and fathers whose authority relies on always being right. Armed with knowledge, there is something for another person to fear, and therefore respect. Other people are a means to an end. Everything is right under the nose, in sharp focus; there is no need to look up.
I DON’T KNOW is the realm of the human. It’s where mistakes are made and learning has room to happen. It’s where vulnerabilities can be visible, so there is something for another person to properly like. Other people are human beings. It takes a while for the eyes to adjust, but after a while the horizons seem endless.
I KNOW is the realm of Business. It describes the way things operate today, our system. It occupies the centre. It follows the principles of economics and is intensely brainy, competitive… destructive. It is driven by desire, expectation, and the need to make things happen; it’s busy and “in control”. I KNOW is cognitive and bureaucratic – dogmatic and hierarchical. It is safe in the knowledge that it has the answer to anything – the answer is to do more of the same thing. Ignorance, veiled, is its most dangerous trait.
I DON’T KNOW is the realm of possibility. It can’t be seen, but it can be felt. It occupies the fringe. It follows the principles of nature and is dynamically creative, simple and free. It is nourished by curiosity, humility and silence; it’s restful. I DON’T KNOW is instinctive and intuitive – spontaneous and primal. It is safe in the knowledge that uncertainty prevails, and that’s OK – the purpose is to explore, humbly and with wonder. Ignorance, revealed, is its most powerful virtue.
I am trying to turn my back on knowledge, business, intellect. Not in disgust, but in order to look in some other direction. What direction? I don’t know. What will it look like? I don’t know. All I know is I like the realm of I DON’T KNOW.
Facing this direction, less burdened by desire and competition and expectation, feels more human. I feel more able to observe what is actually happening rather than listen to, or yearn for, something that is supposed to happen.
I’m trying not to look for answers. My questions change too fast anyway.
But I still get the funny feeling that for wherever I may be going – and for any problem to be solved or dream to be pursued – the answer lies in not knowing.
Great article Chris though I don’t know for sure!
Embarrassing change is a powerful catalyst in my experience and I would agree that the path of ‘the I don’t know’ is indeed a road less travelled across many SME and corporate structures
Let’s stay in touch
Oops that’s supposed to be embracing change !
No worries Nick – I have had my fair share of embarrassing change in the last year too!!
Thanks for the comment.
I thought the embarrassing change was intentional Chris – suggested to me that there are changes that leave us feeling exposed, surprised and out of our comfort zone, possibly an indicator that the change you’re making is the right one!
As for ‘I don’t know’, really like that sentiment. I’m still trying to work through some changes and I don’t know quite how I’ll get there but it does give me a queasy feeling of trepidation and excitement and I think (but I don’t know 🙂 ) that this means it is the right direction in which to be headed.
When reading this, I also thought about the concepts of ‘right and wrong’ and ‘reality’ – and how ‘I don’t know’ could be a force for good in exploring diversity and the need for tolerance in society, our society. How we leap to apply labels, when all they ever are perspectives ‘we know’ from our own interpretations (our reality) of our experiences, and ‘right and wrong’ judgements from what ‘we know’ of our own value system.
Another thoughtful piece Chris. I for one have no trouble aligning with this concept until it conflicts with what I’m ‘expected’ to know and therefore clashes with my egotistical being – still have trouble ‘containing my ego’ (!!). But what a powerful road to travel in pursuit of understanding and expanding our awareness of views. My catchphrase for the next few weeks will be ‘I’m not sure I agree but tell me more’.
Than you for the stimulus!