“I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.”
– Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons)
Funny. But odd once you think about it.
The western world has developed a culture where it’s rare to hear anyone admit “I don’t know.”
“Never let them see you sweat” better fits the tactic advised when faced with a situation we can’t handle. Never admit you don’t know the answer. Never admit you don’t know what to do. Never admit you don’t have the situation under control, that you can’t manage alone.
That’s the rat race. In many situations people don’t know the answers, don’t know what to do, don’t have any idea how to control the factors in play.
They go to war before they know whether their information is accurate. They manipulate financial reports to make their company look good on the stock market. They hire away the best employees the competition has, steal their knowledge and expertise, then express surprise when some steals their own best people away along with their insider knowledge and expertise.
They make mistakes rather than ask others for advice or find consensus. They go for the kill rather than the compromise because dead (or destroyed) enemies seldom cause much problem. When cornered, they lie by diverting attention to someone else to give them time to alter circumstances to make themselves look good (or at least not so bad as someone else).
With the amount of new information develping each day in the world being more than any genius with a photographic memory could take in, every one of us doesn’t know enough about most subjects. We can only be the best at one or two things and we are bound to be wrong about them once in a while.
Entering a restroom at a major conference centre in Toronto a few years ago, I found a young man dressed in a dapper tan suit, holding his right leg up in the air under an air hand dryer. He was drying the outside of his pants, beside his fly. No doubt he was a good salesman, but there are some things you just can’t hide. His pending heart attack faded away when I looked then turned away from him to do the job I went in for.
Sometimes there is no substitute for honesty.
Ignorance is much harder to disguise than most people think. Lies are much easier to uncover than the liars believe.
What has the winner of the rat race proven? Most lack the respect they desire, the recognition they feel they deserve once their glory days are past. Who wants an old rat?
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to keep it real and above the table so that we can all lead healthier lives.
Learn more at http://billallin.com