In one form or another there is a good chance you have seen the following quote if you’ve ever Googled Socrates or surfed for what seems to be an infinite number of motivational quotes —
“And in knowing that you know nothing, that makes you the smartest of all.”
You can’t but get philosophical when you spend some time thinking about this — the vastness of what you don’t know in the context of the universe is incomprehensible, and to think otherwise is at the very least limiting. More realistically though it’s just sorta stupid to believe you can actually know very much of anything; with 225 billion galaxies (and counting) how could you possibly imagine that you do? Of course you need to know things to make it through the day or maybe just to push back the insignificance that comes with 225 billion galaxies. But in the end, what you know is truly insignificant to the point of knowing nothing.
For someone who is always striving to look outside his small bubble and see things differently, I find this quote to be a simple instruction to that end (although I will admit it can be a challenge to execute on) — In knowing you know nothing you are in effect removing the blinders to improve your ability to know. It’s all very counter intuitive if you ask me.
When you allow yourself to know nothing you —
Tear down preconceived notions
Push back bias
Push back fear
Ask questions to learn more
Understand others better
Consider something you have never considered before
Listen more and interrupt less
End up knowing more
As I’ve suggested this is something that doesn’t come easily for me, but I have found that if I start the day telling myself that I know nothing or start a conversation from a place where I know nothing, I find that I see and learn much more than I thought possible.
As I like to say though (with a knowing smile), I’m a work in progress.