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The Freedom of “I Don’t Know”

Man in front of a computer shrugging his shoulders

Most people don’t like saying, “I don’t know”. They don’t want others to see them as unknowledgeable, or just plain stupid. Yet, some of the most successful people make a habit of honestly saying, “I don’t know”. It helps them keep in line with the reality of the world, instead of letting themselves fall into a bubble of their own making.

There’s no need to know everything; that’s why the internet and other people exist. Besides, the freedom of admitting, “I don’t know” leaves you open to the full potential of new knowledge. It gives you the freedom to shift your ideas, freedom to take and combine new information, and freedom to solve problems in new ways.

The Productivity of “I Don’t Know”

“If anyone can refute me–show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective–I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.”

– Marcus Aurelius (Source)

“I don’t know,” keeps you from getting trapped in the same old way of doing things. Admitting that you don’t know lets you discover how to fix a problem properly. And when you work with other people, “I don’t know” is essential for letting ideas flow across the group. Instead of overriding the discussion with a single sketched picture of the world, it lets the team be free to explore and find new solutions.

The Creativity of “I Don’t Know”

“I don’t know,” keeps you open to the fullness of the world. Instead of wallowing in a small box of certainties, saying, “I don’t know” leads you along the path of new understanding.

Saying, “I don’t know” forces you to be creative by forcing an active reassessment of thought. Saying, “I don’t know” frees you from your preconceived ideas. Embrace these moments for learning, actively taking new information and comparing it to what you do know, seeing patterns and connections, forming new creative ways of thinking. “I don’t know” can be a powerful tool. Be honest, and embrace the freedom of admitting what you don’t know so you can learn and grow.

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