It is stated that this proverb has been coined by Alexander Pope. He wrote in his essay An Essay on Criticism in 1709 that “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Since then, it has become a routine to use the proverb in almost in the same words as it has appeared in its first usage.
This proverb means a person is sharing their views with others and doesn’t have enough knowledge of a subject, can lead to dangerous outcomes. People with limited experience can often mislead people, either intentionally or often most innocently. Innocent people or people with a lack of information may easily believe the person assuming/pretending to know everything because most of the time, they are very convincing.
It was Kolb and his work on experiential learning cycles that determined:
- Unconscious incompetence – We don’t know, what we don’t know
- Conscious Incompetence – We now know, that we don’t know
- Conscious Competence – We learn
- Unconscious Competence – We know
However, at a time where there is SUCH pressures for us to continue to evolve, develop, grow, develop. With such a demand for new knowledge and a thirst to receive it, it can far too easily to ‘taken in’ by both charlatans and those with ‘the best intent’ and this is extremely dangerous.
I’ve been observing recently how frequently people ask for help and advice. And what I’ve discovered is most interesting:
Firstly, you may be the type that adamantly professes to never asking for help and advice “You like to find things out for yourself” and that’s great. But the truth is, that’s a lie. You see, whether its Alexa, Siri, or Google home. Whether you ask, or type, we ALL ask many questions every day. We have a thirst for knowledge. Whether it’s “What the weather forecast today Siri?” or “Can you show me how to amend the axis on this spreadsheet?” We all ask questions all of the time!
Secondly, we all recognise that our time is an exceptionally valuable thing. And to waste it is of significant frustration and annoyance to us. Therefore, when we do ask questions, we only ask people (or things) with whom we have already assumed will be able to answer the question for us.
E.g. I’m unlikely to ask an Excel wizard the weather forecast. Likewise, unlikely to ask the weather forecaster how to amend the spreadsheet.
WE have already made some assumptions as to WHO to ask, in order to illicit the answer we are seeking. And here lies the first problem.
You see, when I approach someone to ASK the question, (with the assumption they will be able to answer it) I am also unintentionally asserting some pressure on the person I’ve approach TO know the answer.
None of us WANT to be say “I’m sorry, I don’t know” ever though that may be the truth. We have this innate desire to be of use, be of service. We recognise they have approached us BECAUSE they assume, we know the answer, and therefore our internal dialogue also says “Do you know? What do you mean you don’t know? You must know? They have asked you, therefore you should know. They think you know” and so it goes on.
Our fear, that by telling the truth may somehow damage the relationship. It may distance them from us, and less likely they come back and ask us other questions us, almost guides us to tell them what we DO know. Even though that MAY not be the RIGHT solution to the problem they have asked for help to solve!
Thirdly, we are not very good at asking questions!
The problem is compounded even further by our own lack of confidence in telling the truth! Rather than sharing the whole problem we are struggling to resolve. Instead, we tend to mask the problem by only sharing part of the problem.
I recently observed as a business owner approached several people for guidance and advice. Over the course of a week, they had approach at least half a dozen others, asking the same question of them all. Eventually, I approached them and asked “I’ve observed you all week asking several people the same question. Might I ask what you are seeking to continually ask the same question?” Initially I was given a whole rafter of reasons as to why he continued to ask so many people, but eventually, through a series of coaching questions to dig and delve to the TRUTH, it was because none of the respondents were telling him what he wanted to hear!
Our future shall ultimately be determined,
by the quality of questions we learn to ask of ourselves.
As a Business Coach, I consider myself exceptionally fortunate and privileged to work with my clients. And rather than some, with whom would have you believe it to be the other way around. You see, my role is to ask questions. Often the tough questions you really don’t want to answer, and usually questions you’ve not been asked before. It is often the case; my role determines I need to make people feel uncomfortable. To address things people would often leave locked in cupboards or hidden from view.
It is my role to quickly build enough trust and rapport to roll back the carpet, to open the closet and determine what is it that is really holding you back from being and achieving all you can achieve?
I’ve spent almost 4 years researching WHY some of the biggest brands on the high street FAILED! You can ALWAYS learn so much more from failure, than you can from success. And I wanted to understand how it was possible to grow SO big, only to subsequently FAIL.
The results SHOCKED me, even more so, when I asked the question of more than 100,000 SME business owners and found some of the same flaws in their businesses also!
From this, we’ve made it our MISSION, to help 10,000 Business Owners to #ADDAZERO to their Personal Disposable Income and that starts with asking the right questions!
So, have you already decided you want to be part of that 10,000 and it’s now time to get the details as to how we can get started? or are you undecided and need convincing today?…