“I don’t know.”

Great Googly Moogly is that a wonderful thing to say!

What a wonderful thing it is to hear!

When we hear it we are given an opportunity. If the time and place and person and context is right, we have an awesome opportunity.

We get to show them something awesome. We can show someone something they didn’t know before and, if we’re lucky, they’ll do the same for us the next time we say “I don’t know.”

Oooooh, it sends shivers! Let’s say it again.

“I don’t know.”

Yes! It’s good! It’s so good a phrase. It’s a chance to learn! It’s a chance to step up one little bit. To gain a little bit of knowledge! Knowledge you could use to do better work, to understand a historical reference, to get laid (smart is sexy), to make a joke, to get promoted.

But it can be a scary phrase. I think people are afraid to say it because they don’t want to seem weak amongst the tribe.

The next time a pack of wolves rocks up, we might just throw the “I don’t know” guy in their direction and hide.

Nobody wants to be the next meal on the McWolvies menu, so they shy away from such a beautiful little phrase.

They make shit up.

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. Your favourite teacher in high school did it.

Flat out made shit up.

Because they didn’t want to be wolf bait.

We’re so eager to hide the gaps in our ignorance that we throw whatever information, whether true or not, out there and hope no one notices.

Craziest of all is that we do it to ourselves.

We subconsciously stumble over a gap in our ignorance and make some shit up, tell ourselves that shit, then convince ourselves that there’s no gap.

It’s easiest to spot in ourselves when we start to criticise others. We tell ourselves, or others, that someone has done something wrong and we know how to fix it.

But we never put ourselves in that situation.

It’s especially true when it comes to the criticisms people throw out while watching sport, listening to music, watching a movie, or anything in which most people are removed from the experience of making the medium or performance which they are so astutely offering advice.

But when it comes to our craft … when it comes to our craft and those of us who genuinely want to improve, we mustn’t only be aware of where our faults are, but where our weakest knowledges hide. Where are we lying to ourselves?

I told myself I’d transition into web design without much trouble. I’d done it before, I can do it again.

Boy was I wrong. But it took me weeks of failure to admit to myself as such. “All these developers and designers have just made it over-complicated! What a waste of time! Back in my day …”


If I’d be honest with myself from the start I would have realised that I didn’t know jack and that it was time to go back to school and ask questions as someone eager to learn, not begrudged to do so.

Time would be saved, as would pride. And everyone prefers the person who is asking a question in front of humble curiosity, rather than behind a bruised ego.

Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.”

Especially to yourself.

Awesome things happen when you’re willing to do so.

Or something.

I don’t know.