If there’s one thing that keeps many people stagnant and trapped in the maze of life it’s the words they speak – sometimes to others but mostly to themselves. We tend to speak what we believe to be true and consolidate that belief with actions. Over time those actions create consequences and for some the consequence is progress and for others it’s not.
It’s been quoted for years that “knowledge is power.” But what is more powerful is not the knowledge itself but what we do with it to change our lives and that of others for the better.
I remember my first permanent job in my late teens; a Receptionist at the European headquarters of two leading hotel brands – one a 5-star brand and the other a luxury brand. Being my first permanent job, I was proud to have achieved it but was petrified of making mistakes. Getting past the interview stage was the easy part. Doing the job itself was a different ball-game. Meeting-and-greeting was not difficult. I like people. Technology however was something I needed to master. I had used simple switchboards before while ‘temping’ around London. The switchboard at this new job was all-singing-all-dancing. It must have had 6 lines. On my first day, when the lines all rang at the same time with flashing lights, my brain shut-down. Why would someone invent something like this? All I could think on my first day was, “Who told you to come here, Noreen?”
Growing up as a teenager, I had never been afraid of pushing my boundaries. It’s better to do scary things and get the hang of things than shrink into the shadows of ‘the unknown.’ I was going to conquer this machine.
I soon learnt the ropes and became more confident both with technology and with people. One conversation with an executive at that job stands out for me years on. She was a Regional Vice-President and needed some information to take into a conference call. My response was, “I don’t know.” I had always been left-off the hook in previous jobs because I didn’t know something or the other. But this particular executive pushed the boundaries I had placed in my own way. She taught me something new.
“Noreen, never say I don’t know when someone asks you for something. Say I don’t know BUT let me find out and come back to you.”
That simple conversation changed my career path and my understanding of my life purpose in many ways. It dawned on me that:
- Not knowing something is never an excuse for not progressing or not growing
- Choosing to ‘not know’ and remain not-knowing is laziness
- It is my responsibility to know things that pertain to my area of expertise. And what I do not know I can find out from somewhere or someone who does
- When you know things, people can rely on you and your growth and promotion is directly proportional to your ability to help people and how many people you can help with what you know
- Knowledge is light. People seek it and if you don’t have it they will go where the light is
Don’t let the words “I don’t know” be a stumbling block in your progress in life, career or business. If there is something you believe could enhance your overall life experience or your professional pursuits – whether at work, in relationships or in business – get to know it. Read up on it, ask someone who knows, take a course, get a mentor or a coach… just get to know
“Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”
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