Why You Should Embrace the Call for a Disoriented Life

I have my stories. I believe my stories. I know exactly why my business or life is or isn’t working, regardless of the facts to the contrary. Maybe not.

What I know is usually my biggest problem.

Most of us know too much. The problem with knowing how our business is going is that what we know is almost always more of a problem than what we don’t know. Why? Because what we know is most likely what keeps us from finding out what we don’t.


The danger of being finish-minded.

It’s bigger than being close-minded. It’s more like being “finish-minded”: “I’ve got this all figured out. There’s not much more I need to know.”

When I first started taking golf lessons I “humbly” figured I knew about 20 percent of what I needed to know to be a good golfer. Two years later, after intensive lessons and dropping my handicap from 12 to 1.9, I figured I knew about 2 to 3 percent of what I needed to know to be a good golfer.

When I started riding bikes seriously, I thought I had had everything figured out since I was a kid. Thousands of miles later, I’m still trying to learn how to hit the apex of a corner correctly to keep my speed up. And my stroke is atrociously lopsided, especially when I’m tired. There are a dozen other things I haven’t even begun to figure out.

That happens to me all time. Just when I think I’ve got it down, I find out I’m flying blind again.

Live a disoriented life.

The problem is I’m not disoriented enough. I’ve realized that “adults don’t learn unless we’re disoriented.” I stop listening when I think I know, and only learn when I realize I don’t have it all figured out.

This jumps up and bites me most when something goes wrong in the business, and instead of being open to some new input, I jump to a conclusion based on the existing story in my head. And instead of working hard at finding a better solution, I default to old answers that keep me from moving forward. And too often, I run the story in my head that I’m just a victim—the world around me is the problem.

But the worst result of believing my existing and stagnant stories is that it can keep me from asking one of the best questions I know:

What am I pretending not to know?

Deep down inside, we all know a few simple things about what would make our business work, and we work hard to stuff them down deep. Because usually the thing that we know will make things work better has more to do with fixing me than fixing my business. I’d rather fix my business.

We can sleep walk through building a business as the same unchanged person who started it, and come out the other end on the treadmill. We can sleepwalk through life, too. Sadly, a lot of people do. Or we can regularly ask ourselves what we are pretending not to know, talk to a business mentor or friend to confirm our suspicions, and then go change the simple (but hard) thing that we need to address to move forward.

No magic seminars. Just a simple question.

There are a lot of “Three-inch binder/six CD” seminars out there that will fix your business. But you might save a lot of money and be more effective if you just regularly ask yourself:

What am I pretending not to know?

It’s amazing what we intuitively already know. Go with it.

Article as seen on Inc.com