the important thing is not to stop questioning. curiosity has its own reason for existence. one cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. it is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. never lose a holy curiosity – albert einstein
Archives For ignorance
A standing fact is that we all have differing perceptions. One of the things I think we are prone to every now and then is to, whether consciously or not, think our way is better or we know better than another. At times we are correct and at other times not. We’re all guilty of “over-estimating” ourselves at one point or another… We’re guilty on ALL levels, be it corporate or organizationally or individually…
A couple of days ago I caught myself reflecting on an organization I had visited and I realized I was, in a way, “passing judgment” on how they did certain things. I reined my thoughts and challenged myself to objectivity and not to judge… Here’s a list of reasons why I’ve decided to suspend judgment and I’d like to challenge you to consider before passing judgment and perhaps you may end up suspending your judgment too…
- Do I fully understand why they are doing things they way they are doing? There is nothing as bad as criticizing from ignorance. It could be embarrassing when you discover the real ‘why’ and not only that, you can never take back the words you’ve uttered. Don’t pass judgment on what you don’t know!
- Is their cause ‘just’? Before passing judgment, I’ve learnt to check the motive or cause. Is it just? Is it self-seeking etc. I’ve also come to realize that while the cause may be just the methods may not be. However, there are instances where the cause is just and there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with the means. Where people tend to have issues though is that things are being done in a way they would do it. Sometimes the fight people have against organizations, even individuals is that they’re simply not doing things the way they either feel they should be or the way they would do it! At this point I’d challenge us (you & I) to celebrate that at least they doing something!
- Am I doing something about what they’re doing? This happens a lot of times… People passing judgment on individuals and or organizations that are doing “something” about issues. Before you pass judgment, ask yourself, “am I doing anything about this particular issue?” or “is what I’m doing measuring up in any way to the scale of the impact?”. I’ve realized most critics are people that aren’t doing anything to address things the doers are combating. Before you pass judgment, are you willing to do what they are doing, really? Would you be willing to fight it out the way they have? Perhaps what you should be focusing on is looking into how you can be a support.
- Have I really sought the good? Before you criticize, you need to ask yourself, “what have I sought in these people or organization’s actions?” Sometimes we sweat the small stuff that doesn’t compare to the good that others may be doing. Perhaps you should be commending them for their efforts instead of passing judgment.
- Will my ‘critique’ build up? Often, when we pass judgment (generally the negative type) we make it a point to share with other people. We generally share with people we know are more likely to agree with us, thus winning them onto our “panel of judges”. What normally happens from there is that point is that we build a greater voice to speak in a way that doesn’t help but just strengthens opposition for those we pass judgment on. Thus, being a part of their problem(s).
- Am I being proud? I have encountered people that have been pioneers of sort. I’ve seen some of them cheer others to build on and even exceed their achievements. On the other hand, I’ve seen others want to hold on to their “legacy” by passing and sharing patronizing judgment, to build a following against. Am sure at one point or another (especially if you’re a leader) you’ve at the receiving end of critique from an, “I’m better than you attitude”. While it is easy for us to recognize the pride in others when they critique us, it is easy for us to be oblivious when we’re at the giving end.
“I don’t know” – three words that some people and more specifically leaders, at different times find difficult to utter. I thought of some benefits of saying “I Don’t Know” (in no particular order):
- Gives Opportunity to Engage Team: When you “open the floor” to your team, it facilitates the team owning solutions. People tend to thrive in environments where they contribute significantly toward solutions. Your team will to rise to the level of the responsibilities you give them. Engaging the team means tapping into a bigger pool of ideas and creativity, some of which may even be better than yours as a leader. Your moments of ignorance or ‘limited knowledge or skill’ can be opportunities for growth for not only you as a leader but your team, use them wisely!
- Communicates Security of A Leader: This may mean “eating humble pie” for you in some cases. But! Admitting ignorance or limitations tells your team you are comfortable in being you and in your leadership and that the door is open for them to bring ideas. It makes you more approachable as a leader. Saying, “I don’t know” may also give your team more confidence to speak up when they see loopholes or flaws in ideas or plans you present them in future. Thus facilitating “idea-proofing”.
- Saves Time: The sooner you admit your ignorance and limitations the more likely you are to reach a solution quicker. Get your team going early and avoid avoidable emergencies. Save time and say the ‘three magic words’ sooner rather than later!
- Expressing, “I don’t know” tells your team the areas in which you need more support in as a leader and team player. Help your team stop guessing how to serve the bigger picture by being a support where you fall short.
What other benefits of ‘saying’, “I don’t know” can you think of?