I Don’t Know, at Least Yet

Learning that’s it OK to sometimes not have an answer…

In today’s knowledge based economy, or at least in very knowledge based industries, it seems to me that the reason people pay us to do things is because we can provide trusted advice, based on our abilities, knowledge, and experience. Essentially, we have answers to people’s questions or can develop answers to their questions that they can trust and rely on to be helpful in one or a variety of different ways.

At first I thought I might be a bit biased in this opinion, due to my history of working as a consultant. However thinking about it further, I think the observation generally holds true in a broader sense as well. Whether a direct employee or an outside consultant, we are usually asked to review data, analyze it, and use it to develop answers to questions, whether as individuals or part of a group.

This summary may seem overly simplistic at first. To me the complexity enters into the picture when you consider the data set itself and the process used to analyze it and develop the answers. The data set itself may be extremely complex, fluid, and large. The process may be equally complex, as how the data is analyzed and ultimately presented in a large part contributes to developing conclusions, which lead to answers.

The answers themselves may also be mult-dimensional and choosing the right one may lead to more questions that need more answers. So my intent in writing this post is not to minimalize the value that goes into the process, simply to make the point that ultimately, it is answers we are pursuing.

Conversely, outside of the work world, I’m slowly allowing myself to not always have an immediate answer to questions that arise. This doesn’t come easy, as in the past I’ve usually applied the very analytical, answer-driven approach that has served me well in work, to my personal life. Taking a step back, letting myself not have an immediate answer, watching and sensing how things develop, in the hope that the right answer eventually becomes apparent, has taken and continues to take a conscious effort on my part.

[I haven’t written one of these asides in a while…this one seems important, as I just became aware of myself drifting away from this post and getting caught up in planning my day, trying to fit too many things into too short a period of time…OK, back to writing now!]

I relate this approach to letting myself exist and operate in to allowing myself to exist in what I feel is a messy middle ground. To me, this messy middle ground is a place that is characterized as having more unanswered questions than answers. It’s a place where a level of uncertainty exists that is higher than I would have allowed myself to experience in the past. Allowing myself to exist in this space means relaxing any perceived control I may have on the situation, at least to some extent, so that the experience itself acts as a guide, without me trying to control the experience and force it to go in a direction that I think is best and right.

Is this approach working? While I can say it’s starting to feel right, can I say conclusively that it’s the right approach? I don’t know, at least yet ;)

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