It’s okay not to know

As most of you know by now, I write these blogs a bit in advance of when they’re published. I like to have a few “in the bank” for my own comfort. Sometimes I’ll have six weeks’ worth, sometimes I have nothing saved up and I’m writing a few days in advance. Right now, I’m about two weeks ahead.

My topic today was going to be that it’s okay not to know. As a leader, as a manager, as a parent, as a person… it’s alright not to know the answer to everything. We don’t have to be the experts on everything. That’s why we have teams. That’s why we have diversity on our teams – diversity of thinking, experience, and approach, along with the standard diversity items.

When we don’t know something, we can gather information before we decide upon action. We can look to experts, mentors, and people we trust.

In the workplace, we need the type of culture where it is okay to say “I don’t know” when we really don’t know, rather than pose and posture and get in the way of a real answer.

It can be scary to say I don’t know.

Today, as I sat down to write this blog, I really didn’t know what to write. I wasn’t sure if the topic was relevant, given everything that is going on in the world right now. And who knows what the situation will be in two weeks? I don’t. I don’t know.

So I decided to stick with the topic because there really is so much that I/we don’t know right now. And we need to know what to do when we don’t know. I need to know how to continue when I don’t know.

I empathize with the people who are almost paralyzed with fear and grief. I empathize with those who must process their experience over social media. I empathize with people who feel the need to take action…and any other way people have to deal with things that do not involve hurting others.

I empathize, but those aren’t my ways.

What are my ways? I don’t always know. I don’t always know what to do or think or say.

Maybe being a person in the world is that different from being a person in the workplace. We need to give ourselves time not to know, and not rush into reactions. We need to have time to find out what we need to know. We need people that we can trust.

Mostly, for ourselves, we need to acknowledge that it is scary not to know. We need to make it okay not to know so that we aren’t reacting purely from fear. In times of crisis, we don’t need more black-or-white thinking that comes from fear. We need creative alternatives, new options, and new possibilities. Those come with time, with hope, and require creativity. It needs to be okay not to know so that we can try new things.

How do you write a blog appropriate for these times? I don’t know.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love, and light in the pages,

Maggie

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