Sometimes, we simply don’t know what we don’t know and that’s okay. Pretending like we know what’s going on when we don’t will often lead to disaster rather than do anything except save face.
So how can we go from knowing nothing at all to acquiring and expressing knowledge?
In case you hadn’t guessed it already, the answer is Mindset. We will never move away from naivety by acting like we understand something when in actual fact we know nothing at all about that subject. The very first thing we have to do is accept that we do not and cannot know everything. This seems obvious at first, but if you dwell on times in the past when someone, in conversation, has started discussing something about a subject you have absolutely no idea about, how did you react? Did you pretend like you knew what they were talking about? Did you straight away admit your ignorance? In our own minds, we have to constantly alert ourselves to the fact that we can always stand to learn more than we already do.
As a teacher, I see this often with adolescents and young adults. Often they have not been exposed to the large swathes of ignorance of which they are prone to and, as a result perceive themselves (wrongly) to be very clever indeed. Unfortunately, this perception is often shattered in its entirety as they are progressively exposed to areas of knowledge they know nothing about. All of this is a consequence of ego and everyone can be affected by this, not just adolescents.
In my own learning experience, I still see this (and often struggle with it myself) regularly when it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and grappling. As we acquire knowledge during our training, our perception of what we know and understand about the discipline changes. We begin to see a wider range of techniques, more efficient application of energy, effective submissions etc. However, we are still learning and it can be very easy to forget the need to adopt an open mindset and resort to falling back on what we already know and see that as ‘sufficient’ or allow our ego into making us believe that we now understand everything that there is to know about the subject.
Never forget why you embarked down the path of learning in the first place: To learn more. We did not embark on our respective journeys to show others how much smarter we are or to be better than someone else.
We all start in a place of ignorance and without others we cannot move any further than that. Likewise, others start in a place of ignorance and you might be the one who can help lead them to knowledge.