Do You Treat Knowledge like a Stick or a Balloon?

Knowledge is like a balloon but we act as if it’s a stick.

The Stick For many of us, learning slows or stops after we’ve accomplished a certain amount of competence in our roles. We learn enough to be comfortably effective then we apply what we know solve subsequent problems. Even if problems get tougher to solve, we prefer using what we know; we drop out of learner mode. Like beating something with a stick, we keep hitting problems (or other people’s ideas) with the same knowledge in hope it finally capitulates.

The Balloon But knowledge is more like air in a balloon. The surface of the balloon represents the boundary between what we know (everything inside the balloon) and what we don’t know (everything outside the balloon). It is what we know we don’t know.  As our knowledge grows–as the balloon gets bigger–the surface of the balloon grows. The more we know, the more we know we don’t know.

Whether it’s people, process, politics, self, sales, strategy, finance, general management, or HR, it pays to remain in learner mode. No, we don’t need to learn everything. Nor do we give up on what we have already mastered. We just need to be aware of all we really don’t know and stay open to learning new things.


In your corner,



Today’s photo credit: Allontin cc

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