How Your Friends Can Help You Make The Most Of Your Unknown Known Opportunities
There are opportunities that we know. But there are others, even some we don’t know that we don’t know
We all have opportunities in life. Although sometimes we don’t know it.
There are those that we ponder in the early morning as our brain awakes us in the dawn light. The ones we might discuss with our friends and family. The ones that stand out to us from among the barrage of internet offers to make us free and independent.
Those are all opportunities that we know.
But there are others, even some we don’t know.
Donald Rumsfeld, a former US Secretary of Defense, was ridiculed when, in 2002, he talked about “unknown unknowns” at a press briefing on the Iraq War. The public was confused and the press was gifted years of link-bait headlines.
While Rumsfeld’s terminology was esoteric, it was from an established framework called a “Johari Window”. The Johari Window is widely used by consultants such as McKinsey, as a way of analysing complex problems.
It was proposed in 1955 by two psychologists as a way to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. “Johari” is simply a combination of their first names — Joseph and Harrington.
The Johari Window has four quadrants, like an old-fashioned window. The quadrants contain the known knowns, the known unknowns, the unknown knowns, and the unknown unknowns.
How could you have known unknown opportunities?
In the introduction, I mentioned known opportunities — those you are aware of. They are the known knowns. But how could there be known unknowns?
Firstly, let’s just reflect on how we present our ambitions, capabilities and desires — our opportunities.
Your opportunities are a reflection of your perceptions — correct? They are a part of the movies you play in your head of yourself and where you fit. Some you make known to others, some you keep to yourself.
Some people see you in a positive light concerning opportunities that you make known, some see you as pipe dreaming (again).
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Therefore you keep some ideas and “opportunities” to yourself. You’re not ready to expose these. These are your known unknowns — aspired to by you but kept private.
When others see what you don’t see
Sometimes other people see opportunities for you that you do not see for yourself.
You have doubts, but on the other hand, you cannot deny their perceptions. Their viewpoint is the reality of how they perceive your strengths and weaknesses.
Those are unknown knowns. They are “unknown” from your perspective as you just don’t think that you are a match for these opportunities.
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Great potential for your personality, skills and talents
And lastly, the unknown unknowns. These are the opportunities that neither you nor your friends know are great potential opportunities for your personality, skills and talents.
The idea of unknown unknowns sounds bizarre, as Donald Rumsfeld quickly found out as his comment went viral.
But your unknown unknowns opportunities are those that are your true “out of the box” possibilities. These. are. the. possibilities that spring to light through a chance meeting, through travel and exposure to something that you never imagined, through an accident that changes your perspective.
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How to use your knowledge of your Johari Window opportunities
Your known knows are the opportunities that you currently pay most attention to, sometimes blinding yourself to reality. Defocus on these and see what you can learn from your unknowns.
Consider exposing your known unknowns to your trusted friends and peers. Get feedback on how they perceive these. Open your mind to the feedback and the strength of the opportunity for you.
Discard those that don’t fit you. By definition, these have all now become known knowns and you need to start trimming that pool of opportunities.
Make use of what your friends see as your strengths to create something new. You might be stuck in your known knowns, going around in circles. Ask them to write down their perfect opportunities for you.
Your friends will point out how well you could do something that you are putting off. Or they might give you an adjacent idea which makes a lot of sense to you.
Getting this honest and open feedback from those who know you best is priceless for your opportunity selection.
After doing these things you will have a new list of known knowns. You need to prune that list.
For every new opportunity that you added to your known knowns remove one of the original ones. Prioritise and prune back — prune the courses, prune the mailing list subscriptions, refocus on the new game.
You’ll have renewed enthusiasm and vigour — plus the reflected energy of exposing your unknowns to others.
I’m off to check out my unknown unknowns.
If you enjoyed this post then you might also enjoy my Secret purpose of meditation is to help you escape your addiction to neuroticism and Mindful Passion, Poise and Posture and Not Minding Leads to Confidence, Not Caring to Disengagement and Depression and Optimism is important but it is not the choice between it and pessimism that will help you succeed
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I’m Walter. I write articles on fitness, health, and motivation for men and women over 50. However, curiosity is my main distinction. I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a bolt of lightning hitting me in Korea, crash landing in a 747 (LAX), being sucked into a thundercloud at 4,000m in a sailplane (Australia), jumping freefall from 3,000m on my 1st ever parachute jump (Florida), and two different lethal cancers. Blog: walteradamson.com