From grade school to high school and then on to college, we build up our bundle of knowing. At each level, we build our confidence and become quite enamored with what we know. After all, the alternative is not pretty. Therefore, we want to know as much as possible. And while that is certainly noble, it can also get us into trouble and can even hinder our success.
Knowing is a state of understanding. Something we all seek as we grow. However, the problem is that knowing is often based on beliefs or experiences. Think about that for a second. If we don’t experience it (personally or through others), we may not know it or believe it. How often have you heard someone say, “I know?” It’s even more curious when the “I do” is inconsistent with the “I know.” But that is a topic for a different blog post.
Follow me for a minute. Imagine for a minute that what you know is based on the faulty premise that we understand all that there is to understand around a specific situation. For instance, what is your favorite food? Most of us probably have an answer to this question. For me it’s seafood. However, consider that you have not yet experienced every type of food available. Given this fact, do you really “know” what your favorite food is? As you ponder this question, let’s look at a few ways what you know may be hindering your success.
- You stop asking questions
Knowing is that magical state where we are comfortable that we have the information we need. When faced with an alternative to what we know, it is easy to casually dismiss it because you already know. Recently a friend introduced me to an investment opportunity that sounded too good to be true. It was in the space of digital currency. I nearly dismissed it because of what I thought I knew. It turns out that I knew nothing!
- You accept your current situation
I talk with people on a regular basis that say they would love to be doing something else… something more exciting with their life. Yet, they are not. A little further probing reveals they have simply accepted their current situation because they “know” they cannot change it. Or that changing it would simply be too difficult.
- You confuse knowledge with action
What’s the point of knowing something if you are not going to act on it. In this case, do you really know? Or do you think you know? Granted it is quite possible that it may just be a conscious decision, but I can’t help but wonder.
- You give into fears
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “false events appearing real” as an acronym for fear. The key is they “appearing real”. You see the mind is powerful and has a built in protecting mechanism. Whenever it senses danger, it engages the defense system and you find yourself locked in a battle between you and yourself. Isn’t that amazing! When dealing with fear, the true enemy is within. This makes it even harder to deal with because the thoughts and concerns are yours. Ever notice how easy it is to help someone else with their fears… “you should just do it anyway.” But when it comes to your fears, it is an entirely different story. When you know something, you begin to believe it and your fears begin to feel very real causing you to pull back and remain in search of a more comfortable place.
- You limit your ability to solve problems
The state of problem solving requires identification of a problem. If there is no problem, there is nothing to solve. When we “know” we tell our subconscious there is no problem. Our subconscious in turn says, “thanks for the time off. I was tired anyway.” In effect, you have given yourself permission to “chill.” For example, you want a promotion but you know your manager will never give it to you. This state of mind shuts down identifying this as a problem. Once you identify it as a problem, you can approach it accordingly and develop a plan that will take you closer to achieving your desired goal… the promotion.
- You take your perception as reality
One danger of knowing is you begin to believe your own perception. It is not that this is always a bad thing but it is important at times to consider the perspective of others. Could it be that more than one reality exists but if you know, you are likely to believe the one perception you are familiar with… yours. I had an interesting conversation with an Uber driver a few weeks ago. He was homeless and felt certain that the system was designed to hold him back. His perception had become his reality and therefore he failed to look at alternatives that could potentially provide a new path for his life.
- You place a ceiling on your dreams
The interesting thing about knowing is you begin to believe how high and how far you can go. It is often predicated on your current understanding of how bad you want it. Pushing past your threshold may result in a bit of discomfort. Since one purpose of the mind is to protect us, you begin to set limits to keep you from feeling the discomfort…to keep you safe. Before you know it, you have erected new boundaries for yourself. Think about your goals. Are they within your comfort zone? Are they designed to keep you safe? Are they based on what you know?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) plays a key role in every decision you make; whether conscious or unconscious. It is intimately entwined in what we think we know. Having high EQ allows you to become comfortable acknowledging the limitations of knowing that impact the emotional intelligence pillars of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Taking intentional action to improve these key areas can help you move past your perception of knowing. It requires a desire to explore options that may lie outside of your standard knowledge or belief. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily agree when you find alternatives. They may not be for you. But, the mere fact that you have taken the time to push beyond your comfort zone opens up a world of new possibilities.
When it comes to growing and pushing the boundaries to achieve unparalleled success, I would recommend that you forget what you think you know and open your heart and mind to what could be!
Until next time!