You don’t know what you don’t know

Every day I’m reminded of the stark reality of how much I don’t know. I make it my mission in life to try and understand how things work, why they do what they do, but keep coming up short. It’s fortunate that I enjoy learning, so my lack of knowledge is satiated when I learn.

There’s something called the illusion of explanatory depth, where people believe that they know more than they actually do. People mistake their ability to recognize the logical operation of something with their ability to understand and explain it. Then there’s the things we don’t know until we discover them, the unknown unknowns. Donald Rumsfeld said, “reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

risk-taker

Running your own business has a lot of these two aspects, the belief in yourself that you know more than you actually do, and the stark reality of having to deal with unknown unknowns when they make themselves known. Through some very hard lessons, some of which I highlighted in my recent talk at Leaderex on failure, my reality is to focus my time and effort on the things I can influence. For those that I can’t, other people or services need to come into play.

A fitting example is King Price and the role that they play in business insurance. Last week we had the unfortunate incident of a staff member’s car being broken into, her laptop and other goods stolen, and for the days thereafter, lost all mental peace of mind and productivity while trying to get her life back in order. Having a professional business insurer on hand to assist in a scenario like this is well worth it. King Price is known best for its decreasing car insurance premiums and activity in the short term retail insurance space. It now plays a wider role in the business insurance arena.

Uncertainty Management theory was introduced by William B. Gudykunst to define how humans effectively communicate based on their balance of anxiety and uncertainty in social situations. The principle of a Black Swan event, a random and unexpected occurrence that deviated well beyond usual expectations, as things we should we aware might happen, but put the measures in place to ensure that if they do, the consequences are limited losses to us and our businesses.

As a friend once said when asked what advice he’d give to millenials today, “Experiment, learn and live, but make sure you suffer only small losses, and you’ll come out okay.”

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