The power of saying “I don’t know”

As my first Planning boss left his planning career path to start his own business, he gave me one advice. I don’t keep the exact quote but here is how it goes:

To become great planners, (or any job positions) the most important quality is modesty. You need to be aware of your limited knowledge and ability, always. The ability to acknowledge your limitations keeps your mind open. More than that, it earns you respect from the others, and respect means opportunities. To be a great planner, start from core value of modesty.

I remember my former boss’s noticeable trait of a humble man. He always says “I don’t know” for what he is not sure of. Every time he said that, I could feel the power of those 3 words. It opened discussion. It triggered people’s sharing tendency. More than that, it earned him a trustworthy image, because he acknowledged what he didn’t know in front of strangers and the willingness to listen to other people’s wisdom.

The ability to say “I don’t know” gives rise to the ability to see things under children’s eyes. It helps us avoid assumptions, which are the most dangerous mistakes humans often make. As Lao Tzu once said:

“The wise man is one, who knows what he does not know”

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