Living and Giving

Knowing What You Don\’t Know

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Jeff Stibel recently wrote an article for Harvard Business Publishing about wisdom, knowledge and leaders, arguing that leaders who have wisdom will limit their knowledge.  \”Why Wise Leaders Don\’t Know Too Much\” discusses the value of instinct and the danger of an overload of information.  Here\’s a brief excerpt:

Wisdom can be shattered by too much information. Great scholars, for instance, tend to be great in very narrow disciplines. These scholars give ground on colloquial information so that they can digest more within their field. In many ways, we are all idiot savants: our expertise in certain areas necessitates weakness elsewhere.

Yet we still spend our days analyzing information and falling into traps. Decisions are destroyed by over-analysis. The brain is not intelligent because of the sheer volume of data it can ingest, but for the way it can quickly discern patterns — and then guess the rest. The more information you pile on, the less likely you are to make educated guesses. But educated guesses spring from wisdom: all of your past experiences, knowledge and knowhow, coupled with the most recent information and analysis. In other words, wisdom comes from your gut.

This led me to think about what we know, what we don\’t know, and what we, as leaders, should take into consideration when making decisions.  Here are the thoughts I shared with Jeff:

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for an insightful article. I think what struck me from a macrolevel is that there is always going to be something we don\’t know.

What do we know?

We can connect into timeless truths that can help us make the right decision, in almost every area. Doing the best research you can, coupled with the following, will help you be able to make the best decisions possible:

*sincere desire to move forward your partner\’s interests as well as your own
*goal of creating long-term, mutually rewarding partnerships
*alignment of your personal values with your professional decisions, ensuring decisions you make in the workplace also coincide with your personal values. (This does not mean personal viewpoints or opinions; it means alignment with ethics and timeless principles of fairness)
*vision of a future that is positive and mutually beneficial for all parties involved in your decisions.

The above ramifications can help you make the best decisions in addition to the due diligence and knowledge you have prepared.

Jeff, I\’d be curious to hear what you think of this viewpoint, in light of all your astute studies on intelligence. Thank you for sharing.

Sincerely, Pamela