Be Comfortable Not Knowing – Day 116 of 365 Days to a Better You

You are not a rapid response system. Give the world thoughtful answers not rushed ones.

Have you ever had this experience? Someone asked you a question in a business meeting or in your personal life and you didn’t have an answer, but you felt pressure to come up with an answer? I’ll bet you often regretted that answer because it wasn’t well-considered or even your real answer.

Our culture is one where snap, snap, snap you’re supposed to be a super-efficient answer machine to whatever challenge comes your way. Your boss needs an answer right now on the best way to complete the project. Your child needs your best advice right now. You’re pondering a problem in your own life and you feel that pressure to “figure it out” today.

Not knowing is a societal sin. You should know and know right now. I call this the “ready, fire, aim” approach. You don’t take a moment to aim thoughtfully at the target. You simply react and hope you hit something and alleviate the pressure.

Others are asking you to give a snap judgment and oh so importantly an answer right now. Why? Because, frankly, most other people aren’t comfortable with not knowing either. Most people are more comfortable with an over-simplified or even wrong answer than no answer (see our politics).

Many bosses would rather have some answer to give their bosses than the dreaded no answer. So, they push you to give an answer now. We push leaders and politicians to have an answer right now.

The fact is the situations in life where you really NEED to decide or answer right now are few and far between. If you’re being charged by rhino on the African plain, you might need to decide quickly. That report at work, as earth-shattering as everyone thinks it is, generally can wait one more day to get a better outcome. Most business dates are fictional fabrications that slowly become pointless slave-driving masters anyway.

Power hack: Let’s just take that burden off your shoulders right now. Get comfortable with not knowing.

Despite what society says or demands, there’s nothing wrong with taking a breath, a day, a year, or a lifetime to figure something out. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’ll get back to you on that.” There’s not even anything wrong with never finding the answer to some questions.

Other people may not like it, but you have complete freedom to consider your words and actions before proceeding. Ideally, you would grant others the same freedom and space to consider when you’re the one asking.

This is just one of a billion little pressure points that stress us all out. Encourage others to give you the time you need to consider your answer so that you present and they get your best rather than your speediest response.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about powerful ways to find your answers.

Stay amazing!


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