Whatever, Mr. Know-It-All…

“That’s the problems with kids today… they think they know everything!”  Where haven’t you heard that before? Unfortunately, it’s true!  I think what I find most enjoyable about getting older is that I realize at 36, I still don’t know that much.  Looking back however, one thing is for sure; at 22 I didn’t know anything that I thought I knew – period!

When I was 24, I was working in booming Silicon Valley, CA at my first job. A colleague of mine and I were engaged in a stimulating conversation that started to get heated!  The topic: Whether or not we should know everything about IT-related software and how by knowing more, it would make one’s job easier. Being ignorant, I was ‘for’ knowing everything and argued to the high heavens about ‘why’ it was important… blah, blah.  After delivering what I thought was a fairly compelling argument, my friend looked upon me with a grin and said, “Are you stupid man?”  He continued to say, “You don’t need to know everything, you just need to know where to get the information when you need it!” Unfortunately for me, I was not ready to receive this lesson and therefore I didn’t understand what he meant.  I just nodded my head back and forth and proceeded to walk away all the while thinking, “He really doesn’t know anything… people will see right through him”.  Boy was I wrong!  Had I understood his message, I could have saved myself countless nights of staying up late reading IT-related books, which by the way, isn’t really benefiting me much today.  Now, let’s be clear – I’m not discounting that continued learning is bad – in fact, I highly recommend it.  Rather, my statement is rooted in the premise that you posses a ‘normal-sized’ brain and simply don’t have super-human memory retention.  If you agree with that statement, then you will further agree that you just cannot keep up with every bit of information that’s available to you in today’s digital world.  That’s where Lesson #1 comes in – if you don’t know the answer don’t sweat it – just make sure you know where to get the information you are looking for.  When I was but a young lad, my father used to tell me “when in doubt, lift your head and shout”. Solve the problem and move on!   Isn’t that what life is all about? Different experiences presenting different challenges with the hopes of achieving a successful outcome?  All too often, I think we are worried about other people judging our ability and that type of behavior is self limiting.  I’ve come to accept who I am and, more importantly, understand that I don’t know what I don’t know. I have received promotion after promotion not necessarily because of the knowledge that I posses but rather in my ability to deliver results.  At the end of the day it’s a business and only results matter!

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