How do you know?
I have a favourite question.
‘How do you know that you know?’
As we become adults, we are ordinarily expected to know more than we did as children.
Not long into our working lives, whatever we’re doing, a great deal often depends upon what we ‘know’; the lives of others, our mortgages…
We’re supposed to ‘know’ lots of stuff. (Stuff being a deeply descriptive technical term that a colleague of mine uses!)
At middle or advanced age, we’re definitely meant to ‘know better’.
Exhausting isn’t it?
There can though, be a sense of security or safety in ‘knowing’………..& it is that same safety that prevents our attention from wandering to wondering. Why bother if we already ‘know’?
The poet David Whyte writes of the need for human beings to develop a relationship with uncertainty, with the unknown, that it is particularly the work of leaders & also any of us who are in mid life.
The courage to not know, to accept that in relation to myself & others it’s likely I don’t really ‘know’…the wisdom to suspend judgement…………..
Gregory Bateson famously said:
“It’s impossible for human beings to know objective reality”
Subjective experience, or my version of the truth is what I see when I look & listen out from the restrictions of my sensory self.
What I believe I know about my abilities or potential & what I believe I know about yours………..is often at best supposition rather than fact. It can get in my way & limit me………………
Unless I know!
I once heard Oprah Winfrey ask a guest: ‘What do you know FOR SURE?’
From time to time, it can be helpful to get into the kind of curious space we accessed as children, when we were too young to ‘know’ anything & we were ‘allowed’, even encouraged to ask; ‘what if?’
Desert spaces, coaching, holidays, being out of our ordinary environment, reading books or seeing films, cycling, solitary sports. These & more are contexts in which it can be easier to suspend what we thought we knew…& wonder. The most fascinating learning’s can emerge from there!
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I love to notice, & to wonder & to journal on the things I wonder about: as the poet David Whyte says ~to "overhear myself saying things I didn't know I knew"