“Life changes for the better when we realize that we don’t have to know everything and we don’t have to pretend we do.” 

As a leader, as a physician, as an executive, as a coach or consultant – we think that that we have to know everything. After all, that is the reason why people come to us. They don’t know something and that’s why they ask us. And … we get paid for knowing and advising. And this puts a big burden on us. Because we always feel that we have to stay current which is really not possible in this day and age with the information overwhelm. And not only that, not everything we know or read out there is true.

When I was growing up, my mother always told me the story of her professor who told her back in the mid 60’s, “you don’t need to know everything. You just need to know where to find it.”

I know a few individuals who are living with the belief that they have to know it all and if they don’t know it, they pretend to know and make stuff up so that their ego doesn’t get bruised by admitting that they may not know something. Additionally, I know a lot of physicians who think that they have to figure everything out for themselves. They shouldn’t ask for help or admit that they don’t know. The stigma that a physician is smart includes the attachment that they must know everything and don’t need the help of anybody else. If you are struggling with this, what comes up for you when you read the above quote?

For me, it is very liberating to know that I don’t have to pretend to know. I and my ego made peace with the fact that I don’t have to know everything and I can go up to other people and freely say to them, “I don’t know or I forgot already but could you please tell me again how …” And by doing that I give another person the opportunity to be of service to me.

What comes up for you when you read the quote? Would love to read your comments.