One of my favorite philosophers, J. Krishnamurti, stated, “To know is to be ignorant. Not to know is the beginning of wisdom.”
I’ve been thinking about this in ways large and small as I wound up my family holidays and began preparing for 2013.
Why drag my family into this? Because one of the things I’ve realized as I’ve grown older is that I don’t come from a family of question-askers. Instead, it’s assumed that we should already know whatever needs knowing (and if we don’t know it, we are somehow mentally or morally deficient…..FYI, this doesn’t make for a relaxing childhood.)
So my mandate for this coming year is to pepper those around me with questions about everything—large and small— and in any and every situation.
(A caveat: The above should not take the place of doing in-depth preparation before interviews and meetings. I want you to leave others thinking, “Wow, that’s genius!” Not, “Hmmm….she’s gormless.”)
Why do I think asking questions is so critical?
Well, aside from the fact that others find it far more fun to talk about themselves than to hear about you, it’s because many of us move through the world with 1,001 stories we’ve made up about why the people around us are saying and doing the things they say and do. For example, if we find them difficult, it’s because they’re “arrogant” or “bitchy”. If they aren’t making the choices we are, it’s because they’re “stupid” or “crazy” etc.
But once we’ve put that label on them—once we “know” what they’re like—we stop doing the work on ourselves that’s necessary to keep our hearts and minds open to possibility, to change, to new growth.
Closer to home: if we decide we “know” how something is going to turn out—and it doesn’t go that way– we tend to begin mental chatter along the lines of , “But this isn’t what I expected/wanted/planned for…” All of which closes us off to the possibility that something far better than what we expected/wanted/planned for might happen.
So, here’s my slogan for 2013. “Ask Questions: Not to know is the beginning of wisdom.”
Frances Cole Jones