It’s a fascinating question that we rarely ask ourselves. Partly because we are too busy but more importantly because we feel that we always seem to know what we are doing. We never really think that we are at the limits of our thinking. When close to that limit, our rational logical brain takes over and we can always craft an explanation for almost anything.
Everyone of us has the ability to rationalize and explain things. In fact, we are quite good at this. Far less of us ever stop to think that what we may think or believe or share with others could be imperfect. That we know far less than we think we do or appear to know. That our logical explanation could be flawed. Or our approach naive because we didn’t consider three other things that are important that we knew nothing about.
If we choose not to be the storyteller and be found wrong, we simply hide to not show others our weakness. We avoid being in the spotlight and drift through life hiding amidst the safety of a larger crowd. Always deciding with what the crowd does without question. This person knows that they are at the limits of their thinking but have decided to not put in the work to change this.
Asking what am I missing, is a great way to remind us that we only know what we know. That our world may be too small. That our experience too limited. Asking this question is also a sign of maturity and self-awareness.
As I have gotten older, I now reach out on a regular basis to others, with either more experience or subject matter knowledge, to help me better understand a situation and to help expose me to all of the options available when crafting the next few steps that need to be taken in a given situation.
I now easily accept the fact that I know only what I know and have decided that it is much less risky to seek others input than to impulsively do things that may not work in the end. For I have come to understand that what I know is quite limited.
The trap when doing this is when we consult only those people who are like us. Who have the same experience as us. Who are our friends but have no evidence of experience in the subject we are asking about. It doesn’t work when this happens. You need to seek out people with experience in the areas you need help in. Strangers actually can be a better source of knowledge if they can be approached and agree to help.
All it takes is effort, curiosity, and time. Something all of us have but few of us use effectively each day of our lives.