The pressure is brutal. To know, to have answers, to offer fresh ideas.

Chances are, you have been hired for your job to offer insight and solutions. I love the moment when I know. When I have no doubt, when the next right action is crystal-clear. The moment when I don’t know, however, tends to yield the richer crop.

Because I want you to think I’m smart and knowledgeable, it is tempting to tell you I know even when I clearly don’t.

Ever sat in a meeting where everyone pretends to know and no one has a clue?

Next time you congregate with your team and somebody asks What do you think we should do?, consider this:

If you know, GREAT. If you don’t, switch to I don’t know – YET!

  • It affirms your faith in the fact that you will know. Shortly – but not just YET.
  • It lets me know that you’re ready to make a decision – but not just YET.
  • It lets everybody else off the hook and gives them permission to acknowledge their        same truth: We don’t know – YET!

Wanna get out of yadda yadda yadda yadda? Get out of knowing = same old answer same old answer same old answer?

I don’t know – Yet! facilitates a dive into complexity, ambiguity, alternatives. It may frustrate the heck out of those who believe that the familiar answer is just fine. It will invoke a collective sigh of relief from those who believe that same old same old isn’t working. Not knowing doesn’t always feel good. Don’t hang out there longer than you need to, but trust that out of the tangle of complexity an I KNOW will emerge. This I KNOW will be borne of collective exploration. The emerging KNOW will be wiser than the hasty KNOW. It will be a KNOW of conviction.

You may end up with the familiar answer. The answer will have been earned.

I don’t know – YET! is your insurance policy against same old same old. And it relieves you of that awful pressure of having to have answers, all the time. It may be wise to fake confidence. It is fatal to fake knowing.

Make I don’t know – YET! part of your vocabulary. When you truly don’t know, say it.

Whew, what a relief.

About Achim Nowak

Achim Nowak is an author, speaker, C-Suite coach, and international authority on personal presence. His book The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World (New Page Books) has just been published. His previous books have become prized resources for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives around the globe. Achim and his work have been featured on 60 Minutes, Fox News, NPR, in The New York Times and The Miami Herald.

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