9.2.17

Knowing what you know vs. knowing what you don't know

It's always easy to point out the things you know. Soundwave travel in vibration, sea tasted salty, Donald Trump is the president of United State, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, if you eat too much Lychee with an empty stomach you could kill yourself... and the list goes on. 

How about things that you don't know? Give a moment to think about it and try to give at least 10 things that you don't know. You probably wouldn't give a second to think about it because since you "don't know" it, how suppose you could come up with a list of the things you don't know?

Let me ask you some questions: Why is the sky blue? If I used string-telephone in outer space, will I be able to hear the sound? Why eating too much Lychee with an empty stomach could kill?

I bet you will start typing the questions into Google and search for the quick answer.

Well, searching on the Internet is just a way of learning and that's not my point of discussion here. What I'm curious is why "knowing what you don't know" is way more important than "knowing what you know"?

It gives you a direction to go.

Yes, it is that simple. Knowing the things that you don't know give you a sense of urgency to learn it, to seek the answers. Charles Dughigg, the author of "Smarter Faster Better; the Secret of Being Productive in Life and Business" illustrate the importance of knowing what you don't know with a story Annie, a poker game player.

I have another thought about knowing what you know can help in learning. I got this insight when I was looking at a map for emergency exits at a hotel room a few months ago. When looking at the emergency exits, I figured out that didn't help me to put the direction as I couldn't draw a visualized version of the map in my mind. But when I found the "YOU ARE HERE" label, it all made sense to me.

From knowing my current position, I could easily figure out which direction to go when I step out from my hotel room, to turn left and walk straight until the end of the corridor, the exit will be on my right.

So, it will be similar in learning. Knowing the position of you now provide you a direction to work on. For example, I know I have basic knowledge of using Microsoft Words so if I'm looking for a tutorial on the Internet, I could probably start at the "Intermediate level". Combining with knowing what I don't know - the mail merge function - provide me a clear direction to look for a tutorial on this particular lesson.

Have you spent a moment today to figure out what you don't know?
“True wisdom is knowing what you don't know”--- Confucius


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