February 5, 2016

Infomagical Day 3: Not Knowing

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Day 3’s Infomagical Callenge was to resist FOMO (an acronym you’re most likely to find preceded by a hashtag, it stands for fear of missing out) in pursuit of JOMO (made up for Infomagical purposes, it stands for joy of missing out).

The idea was to resist the draw to stay up on all of the latest and greatest (news, gossip, trends, articles, internet sensations), and instead invest that time in your focus for the week (my designated focus is to be more creative).

The path this challenge led me down was to think about how difficult it is to say “no,” and admit that sometimes, darnit, I just don’t know.

Countless times throughout my career I’ve been asked either by a colleague or client, “Have you heard of/read [author/book/theory/framework/model]?” And it’s always caused a bit of swirling in my stomach. On one hand, I want to be in-the-know. I want to be studied, competent, well-read, and prepared. And on the other hand, there’s only so much time in the day, and I would never lie.

I always choose to admit when I haven’t heard of or just don’t know about whatever the subject is, but for years, as soon as the conversation ended, I’d run to order the book, or read the article, or research the framework. And guess what happened? More often than not, I got a sparkly new hardcover book with a beautiful dust jacket that kept its perfect binding and collected dust on its jacket. There’s just too much to know!

Every time I collected a new book or saved a new article, it would lead to my feeling guilty and less-than. Guilty that I looked at it and didn’t pick it up, and less-than because there were nuggets of wisdom in there that would never make it all the way to my brain. So I’ve stopped.

As hard as it is, this is my commitment to a new practice: when someone brings up a topic I don’t know about, and asks, “Have you heard of it?” I will swallow my pride and say, “No, can you tell me about it?” And when they say, “You should read it/look at it/get it,” I will respond truthfully with something like, “I don’t know that I will, but I’d love to learn more. Can you tell me what I need to know?” I’ll let you know how it goes.

So, I leave you with this: what do you choose to say no to? What do you not know that you’re ok not knowing? How will you hold the not knowing?

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