You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

by | Mar 24, 2023 | W3 Blog | 1 comment

Once upon a time, a sparrow, who had laid three eggs in her nest, went out to get food. When it returned, it saw that one egg was missing. That egg was picked up by a monkey, who took it to a farm and placed it amongst the eggs of a hen. At the expected time, the chickens came out and so did a little sparrow. The sparrow followed the lifestyle of chickens and never learnt to fly.

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”

The sparrow never knew that it was not a hen. Why? Because every creature on this planet has a limited knowledge. Yes! Every creature including the big thinking hats amongst humankind too. Be it Steve Jobs or Satya Nadela, nobody knows it all. 

Believe it or not, many of us have been that sparrow who was designed to fly, but remained unaware of its own capability. What makes us different from animals is NOT the learning, but the conscious awareness about the power of learning. Knowing that we don’t know is the first step towards knowing ourselves and our egos deeply.


“You don’t know what you don’t know” – this phrase highlights the importance of understanding the limitations of our own knowledge. It reminds us that we may not be aware of important information or insights that are crucial to making informed decisions. This applies to all areas of life, from personal relationships to business and management.


The repercussions of discarding this mindset may result in lack of ideas, rigid mindset, high-level stereotyping, cognitive biases etc.


At its core, the phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know” is about humility and self-awareness. It encourages us to acknowledge that there may be gaps in our understanding and that we should always be open to learning new things. It also reminds us to be cautious and humble in our interactions with others, recognizing that they too may have valuable insights that we are not aware of.


One of the most common examples of “You don’t know what you don’t know” is in the realm of technology. Many people assume that they are knowledgeable about technology simply because they use it every day. However, the reality is that technology is constantly evolving, and there are always new developments and innovations that we may not be aware of. For example, most of the daily users of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are not experts in the complex algorithms that power these platforms, and we may not fully understand the impact that they have on our lives.


In business and management, the concept of “You don’t know what you don’t know” can be particularly important. Business leaders must be constantly vigilant, seeking out new information and insights to stay ahead of the competition. They must also be willing to admit when they don’t know something, and seek out the expertise of others who may have a different perspective. 

The advent of Artificial Intelligence tools like ChatGPT is also the result of a similar mindset, where we as humans accept that we don’t know what we don’t know.


Finally, “You don’t know what you don’t know” is also applicable to personal relationships – whether romantic, platonic, or professional. It is important to recognize that we don’t know everything about the other person. We may make assumptions or judgments based on incomplete information or our own biases, without fully understanding their experiences or perspectives. By recognizing the limitations of our own knowledge and being open to learning more about others, we can build stronger, more meaningful relationships based on trust and mutual understanding.


While embracing the principle that “You don’t know what you don’t know” is what can make us humble, empathetic and curious individuals, it can also be uncomfortable and challenging at the same time. Discomfort and challenge are often signs of growth and learning, that makes us more resilient and adaptable individuals.


Few months ago, I decided to enrol into a course, and even recommended the same to two of my friends from coaching community. One of them declined saying that this course is nothing but NLP wine in a different bottle, and that he is already an expert in NLP. This made my other friend wonder and she asked me why I am still interested in this course when I am already a Certified Master Trainer of NLP.  I shared my reasoning with her – “NLP is everywhere without it being called NLP. There are some NLP “experts” who see NLP everywhere and say ‘oh I know all this already’. And there are other NLP “learners” like me who see NLP everywhere and say ‘wow there is so much more to learn in NLP’. That’s the difference that makes the difference. By exploring what I don’t know, I will learn what I don’t know.”

Learning and growth are ongoing processes. We will never know everything there is to know, and there will always be new challenges and experiences to navigate. By embracing a growth mindset and committing to lifelong learning, we can continue to evolve and improve as individuals.

“If you are not willing to meet uncertainty, you will kill possibility.”

– Keren Eldad, Founder of With Enthusiasm 

To sum it up, in order to be ready to know more, we have to accept that we don’t know what we don’t know.

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    Excellent massage


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