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Ahh there are really great moments– and other times life can feel overwhelming and stressful.
John, a manager wrote: ”I’m just trying to keep up with the pace and not burn my team out,” he explained. “But, I’m struggling. At this level, I need more time to learn about the business and I need more time with my team. I feel as though I am not enough or I am not measuring up and that drives me nuts.”
His questioning, wanting, doubting, led me to think about the challenges of having a wealth of information at our fingertips. Feeling sick? Go see Dr. Google. Missed the news? Check Facebook or Twitter. Want to make news? Social media is crowning citizens as trusted news anchors every moment of the day.
While I spend most days fasting from news, stock quotes and sports’ scores, the hottest most seductive news of the day always finds me…even when I am not looking. I recognize that there is a beauty to our information age, yet I can also see how information itself can be a seductive addiction that eats up our time and energy and causes us to compare ourselves to others in fascinating ways.
What happens if you miss the news? What is it that you actually miss? Is it the urge to know or is it the desire to follow a story? Do we always need to know what’s happening to stay current and informed? To feel well and fulfilled?
Why do we have the urge to know it all? Is it connected to how we value our knowledge and abilities? The unhealthy urge to know it all can fade when we acknowledge that what we are actually chasing is the notion of being perceived as being of value. Said another way, at some level, we believe that we are not enough because there are some aspects of our knowledge base or job skills or parenting or leadership that we haven’t yet mastered. Do you see that?
What if telling yourself that you need to know it all is creating feelings of depression, guilt exhaustion? How do you feel when you see yourself as an imposter?
In my conscious communication work, I often invite people who are feeling overwhelmed by the need to know it all to get increasingly comfortable with not knowing.
The benefits of NOT being a know it all include:
- Being more comfortable with not having all the answers
- An ability to be with the questions
- A willingness to ask for information and knowledge
- An ability to empower others more
- Removing guilt and shame from your inner world
- The relief of being authentic
- Becoming more resourceful and more effective
- Allowing others to do and see all of the above
Our world sometimes reminds me of a game show. We are constantly judging and being judged for what we know and how fast we can give the answers. We have placed much value on being right, but what are the costs? When we focus on being right, we create subconscious leadership and life habits based on:
- Establishing our worth (external) versus believing in our worth (internal)
- Proving others wrong versus seeing other possibilities
- Listening to respond versus listening to understand
- Chasing happiness versus experiencing happiness
- Resistance versus openness
The Conscious Communication Practice
While constant judging, assessing and comparing is a part of human nature, I work with leaders who experience relief and release when they surrender to the truth of not needing to know all the answers.
When someone comes to you seeking your advice on what they “should” do or if your boss/colleague asks you a question, consider the following:
- PAUSE for a few seconds to feel the “quality of knowing” in your body.
What do I mean by the “quality of knowing”? Notice how you are feeling when you are asked for an answer. Let your body tell you your truth. Are you trying to answer from a place of proving a point or protecting your credibility?
If yes, notice the quality of your answer. Are you:
- Hurried/nervous or calm/curious
- Uncomfortable or comfortable
- Answering with clarity or with confusion/assumption
A. For the advice seeker, do you know what they “should” do? What might be created if you ask them questions to help them find their own answers and approach so they can make their own best decision?
B. When your boss/colleague asks you a question and you’re not certain of the answer, are you responding from a place of “I should know” or a place of curiosity, (“hmmm let me think about that”), offering possibilities or to find more information?
How do you feel during either approach?
As you move through your day, give yourself permission to say the phrase “I don’t know”, when you feel the quality of knowing tell you that you simply don’t know. Notice what it feels like to say it genuinely. Notice what it does for your thoughts and your actions. Allow yourself the privilege of not knowing.
What a delicious, conscious thought to digest: We may some day get to experience the joy of being free from needing to “have all the answers”.
None of this was taught in school. Click the poster below to join the upcoming Leadership Experience process were we explore, learn and grow comfortable practicing these leadership skills which help us in all areas of life. Join us!