Ignorance can be powerful

Recently we discussed the power of asking questions. By embracing the likelihood that others’ wisdom can teach you something, you can expand your circle of influence and learn at the same time.

Ignorance is the absence of being informed and leads to stupidity, but you can use awareness to protect yourself from stupidity by acknowledging your own ignorance. In other words, careless mistakes and bad decisions (stupidity) are made by the uninformed (ignorant) but if you know you are ignorant, you can head off the consequences before they become a problem. (You’ve heard the old saying “he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know”?)

Anger can be a symptom of ignorance. Many people get mad because they don’t understand the total picture and base it on misinformation or partial information. Keep this in mind when dealing with others who are short-tempered or hot under the collar – they may be frustrated that they don’t have the facts.

Fortunately, it’s possible to solve ignorance by first acknowledging that it exists, then enbrace your ignorance by withholding judgment, and ask those questions!

Ignorance can also be a tool for keeping your own sanity and developing those you lead.

  • Good leaders know what to ignore, such as occasional failure in others. If the situation permits, don’t be quick to point out failures,  but let others work out their own solutions.
  • Ignore occasional insults. People may not get your dedication, vision, and passion, and may say things that feel like insults. Let it go — they are insulting the process, not you.
  • Ignore your own failures and successes. If your failures only discourage and don’t instruct, forget them. If past successes inspire arrogance, likewise forget them.
  • Ignore persistent critics and poisonous people. Take from them their ideas but not their criticism, insults or destructive personality.

You need to be aware of what not to ignore as well. One sure way to lose control is to ignore what you should be acting on.

Use ignorance creatively! It can improve your control, your effectiveness, and your committee’s functioning.


Print pagePDF pageEmail page