I’m in over my head.
I claim to know more than I do.
I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, and I don’t even know their names.
The current expectation is that I am knowledgeable about everything that is put in front of me. It has been this way for a number of years now, but I’m not sure when that transition occurred. I used to be able to simply learn from others and not have to know anything. But now, it is getting harder and harder to say, “I don’t know.”
I must come up with answers or be able to produce them without much of a head start. I like the challenge that is posed in this assumption and the level of respect I am afforded, but it is just so hard to give advice or proclaim truth when I literally just looked up the answer or tried out a new solution 5 minutes before responding to your e-mail.
While I am huge proponent for the fact that a degree does not mean that you know anything, I also see the paradox that I have created. By stating that claim, I am forcing myself to credential each act of speech I initiate. I am saying that I can know everything that someone who has a degree does know. I am belittling their accomplishment, while ridiculously inflating my own.
I sometimes feel like I sit atop of a knowledge pyramid scheme. I feel as though, I am trying to gain as much of other people’s knowledge by reading their work and networking with them so that it makes me look important and valuable. I keep on bringing more people on because I feel as though someone is going to find me out and call my bluff. But, no one has. They just keep on feeding me more information and connections.
The pressure is pretty incredible to know and to do. It is exhilarating most of the time, but sometimes it feels hollow and overly ambitious. Resting on laurels (what laurels I can actually claim as mine) sounds nice from time to time.
The one way I keep rationalizing sitting on top of this pyramid is that I believe that others are creating pyramids of their own and I am on the bottom of theirs. Hopefully, they are not relying on a foundation (me) that will crumble, just as my pyramid may crumble at any moment.
I cannot be the oracle or the prognosticator of everything in my field of vision, whether that is startups, technology, or education. These things are fluid and, in the grand scheme of things, I know nothing about them. While I may be able to rely on others to let me do my job, I cannot exist without them. And, I need to. At least to the point of making sure that I have earned the respect I have been given, that I can cite my own experience rather than someone else’s as proof that I know what I am talking about.
So, here is the deal:
Call my bluff. Please. Tell me that I don’t know anything and make me look like a fool. Show me just how little I have done and how much I have to learn. I need that. I need to not be an expert for a while. I need to just be mentored and molded. I need someone to ask me questions for a change. And I need to not take those questions as an invitation to garner respect because of the answers I come up with. If you do this for me, I promise I will do it for you as well.
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