- Striving for love, not just to tolerate (10/14/21)
- Be the change you want to see (10/7/21)
- The value of music in our lives (10/1/21)
- A tribute to a listening leader (9/24/21)
- Developing a strong community for 2050 (9/16/21)
- Small actions do add up (9/10/21)
- Rather than 'have to,' consider 'get to' (9/3/21)
Admitting we don't know everything
Every year, it happens like clockwork at my house. At some point in the late fall or early winter, someone in my house gets up in the morning and stumbles to the bathroom, reaches into the shower to turn the handle ... and nothing. Thereís no water.
Once again, the pipe in our well house has frozen because of the dropping temperatures. For the next few hours, we will be waterless until someone wanders into the frigid cold to turn on the heat lamp in the well house and the pipes thaw. This jury-rigged solution makes it work and yes, a professional is who came up with the system.
To have water in our house, we had to take that difficult first step: acknowledging that we didnít know what we were doing. We had to ask for help. We had to admit we didnít know everything.
In fact, if I admit it, I donít know how - and this is just a rough estimate - 99 percent of the world works.
I donít know how electricity works, so thatís why I hire an electrician because itís done right. I donít know how to play the G chord on the guitar, so thatís why I attend concerts because itís done beautifully. I donít know why Iím gaining weight, so thatís why I see my physician because she can tell me that I do know why Iím gaining weight but I wonít give up my fries.
I also thought I was the only one who drove down the road wondering why wood is used for electrical poles, how birds are able to sit on electrical lines without getting electrocuted, or how long the stripes on a highway are. (Because wood is cheap but good, electricity takes the path of least resistance and thatís not a bird leg and 10 feet which is longer than most people guess.)
Every day, I must admit that I donít know something. Every day, I will wonder about something I donít know. And every day, I will ask questions or research something. At the end of the day, there are a lot of useless facts in my head but I wouldnít give up my curiosity for anything.
(Iím trying not to buy as many books as I have in the past but I couldnít pass up ďA Walk Around the BlockĒ by Spike Carlson, where he explores everything from how squirrels use their tails to when manhole covers came into existence.)
Admitting you donít know something is hard but that gives you the opportunity to learn something new, to need someone elseís expertise and knowledge, to re-frame how you think.
And it is not just the physical world around us where we need to acknowledge we donít know everything.
Itís also our ideas and opinions and thoughts which affect our decisions.
Especially these days, we need to admit that we donít know everything about a particular subject..
Your neighbor doesnít know everything. The person calling in to a radio show doesnít know everything. People posting and sharing on social media certainly donít know everything. Even the experts may not know everything.
Yet sometimes, we give them all the same influence. We need to admit that the person who has devoted their life to a certain subject has more authority. We need to admit that the person who is dealing with the situation day-in, day-out knows more than we do. We need to admit that a person who has boots on the ground and deals with the problem on a regular basis is who we should listen to.
Itís not wrong to admit that we donít know everything. In fact, it takes a leader with an open mind to acknowledge that they are willing to listen to others, that they are willing to change their mind, that they are willing to make an informed decision based on those who do know.
And at the end of the day, we need leaders - and a community - which are willing to acknowledge that they donít know everything, but are willing to learn.