Lack of knowledge, or worse yet, self-chosen ignorance, is a looming barrier to our success in life and in work.
A far bigger danger to us than ignorance (of either variety) is the illusion of knowledge. When we face challenges, deal with problems, and enter conversations assuming that we know plenty, we have created subtle cognitive constraints that limit our acquisition of new knowledge.
We can learn to inculcate curiosity within our own minds, but it takes some discipline. Achieving the “beginner’s mind” is even more difficult if we succumb to the perception of urgency. Urgency, real or imagined, almost always narrows our focus and limits our openness to possibilities that lie in the periphery of our consciousness.
In the book Mavericks at Work, La Barre and Taylor (2008) reported the results of their studying the leaders of organizations that have experienced phenomenal success in the advent of the digital age. They quote one of those leaders directly:
“Whatever day it is, something in the world changed overnight, and you better figure out what it is and what it means. You have to forget what you just did and what you just learned. You have to walk in stupid every day.”
Excellent advice, and a learnable skill.