Every once in a while, I publish a list of What I Don't Know.
This perennial, shameless display of ignorance was inspired by Rob Emrich, my SpeakerSite co-founder and friend. He loved for us to keep a visible, up-to-date list of what we don't know. Rob knew that we we needed all the help we could get to move from Unconscious Incompetence (not knowing what we didn't know) to Conscious Incompetence (at least aware of what we didn't know), on the way to Conscious Competence. (In the development of SpeakerSite, we never made it!)
Most folks think that ignorance is vulnerability. I think that ignorance is opportunity. A frequent opportunity. For me, it's darn near hourly.
It's time for a New List Of What I Don't Know.
The list is published here occasionally, and always shows up different from the last time. That's because I learned about what I didn't know — and I discover more of what I don't know.
The list has usually included five to ten subjects. I remember several:
- How to hike the Grand Canyon (for an adventure).
- Learning a southern accent (for a play).
- Repairing a flat bicycle tire (for a flat bicycle tire, silly).
In the end, I hiked the Grand Canyon (twice), decided to portray Atticus Finch without southern dialect, and fixed several flat tires (now I enjoy flats).
So what is on the new list?
This year, only one item is on the list. (There's more I don't know, but this one is head-and-shoulders above all others.)
But I'm stuck.
I can't quite describe the one item on the List Of What I Don't Know.
And, if I can't name What I Don't Know, how can I possibly ask you to teach me?
This is frustrating.
For the past three weeks I have met with about 80 people on this topic. And I still can't name the topic.
I can't name the thing that I don't know. And that is a first step toward Conscious Incompetence. The problem solved is the problem named. The opportunity is the opportunity named. The challenge addressed is the challenge name. The first step in learning is naming the subject.
I can't name this, this, this problem, this opportunity, this challenge, this subject.
So what am I talking about?
I know what it is. But I can't tell you what it is.
I really can't name it.
Can't, not won't. I want to name it. But every time I try, it comes out so ignorant that others squirm. And that's all I learn.
What Little I Know:
- This opportunity, problem, challenge, subject (o/p/c/s) has everything to do with differences in gender, equality, fairness, race, sexual orientation, age, affluence.
- This o/p/c/s has to do with my implicit assumptions, the biases that immediately cloud what I see and hear with others.
- This o/p/c/s has to do with my understanding of — and reaction to — my own White Male Privilege. (I have benefited mightily from my inheritance.)
- This o/p/c/s has to do with how I help the world — or, at least, the corner in which I live — levering diversity of thought, insight, and encouragement.
- My intention — and non-negotiable — is toward inclusion. I want everyone embraced and working at their highest purpose. I want to build bridges: so that we might all travel from strength to strength to strength.
As I type, I keep thinking that I'm thinking about this incorrectly. Words fail.
I need your help. Teach me.
Please start by telling me the name of my Opportunity/Problem/Challenge/Subject.