Do we dare to not know?

Written by Landa van den Berg

The past decade I have spent quite some time on self inquiry.  Initially this started, as for so many others, out of the desire to find some relief from my over-active brain.

Over time the focus of my practice shifted as I started to ask a different kind of question.  How can I learn to listen to my intuition?  How to live out of compassion and empathy?  How to stay balanced in the turmoil of human life?

Knowing of my interest in this area my colleagues at Thought Partners introduced me to the work of Adam Kahane (Solving Tough Problems) and Otto Scharmer (Theory U).  Both authors explain that in dealing with difficult situations it is essential to open one's mind and heart. This language really struck a chord with me. By allowing myself to start questioning my personal values and beliefs I can learn to open myself to new, unknown opportunities and, in this process, to really connect with others.

One quote that resonated for me was ‘being an expert is a severe impediment to listening and learning.'  Indeed, being the expert makes it extremely hard to really open to different perspectives, to connect empathetically with others, and to accept the limits of one's own capability (let alone our mistakes).  According to management literature, the ‘need to know' is a serious risk for many business leaders. It limits the willingness to seek advice, listen to warning signs in case of system failures and adjust the direction if needed.

Apparently I'm not the only one reflecting on this.

How difficult it is for our expertise not to be our only guiding principle!  Typically our whole education and career is founded on developing our knowledge and skills, and as a professional we are paid because of our expertise.

Allowing myself to be ‘not-knowing' is currently one of my biggest development goals.  My silent mindfulness practice is a crucial part of my exploration.  This is, indeed, challenging!  Therefore I would love to hear from you about your views and experience in ‘daring to not know'.