It has been said that there are 3 types of knowledge: what you know, what you know you don’t know, and what you don’t know you don’t know. Of the three, the biggest potential for your personal growth and success comes from the third category. Learn to learn what you don’t know you don’t know and you’ll be able to start making quantum leaps forward.
The 3 Types Of Knowledge
First, let’s look at an example of each of the 3 types of knowledge. Since you’re reading this article, you probably know English – so no problem there. You may also know you don’t know Japanese or Mandarin Chinese – again no problem because if you want to learn another language you know to look for the necessary resources. But there is a problem when it comes to what you don’t know you don’t know, because you don’t even know to start looking for the answers.
In your career, for example, you may be stymied in your attempts to move ahead. You’ve learned all you think you can, but others keep moving ahead instead of you being promoted. Often it’s because they have specific knowledge you don’t even realize you’re missing. Or if the best jobs in your desired career path were only listed on LinkedIn and you didn’t know the site even existed, you might never know about the job openings.
Sometimes you’re unaware of things because of the economic stratus you’re currently operating in. You might want to dress like a CEO, but do you even know what stores the wealthy shop in? If you’re used to $25 or $50 hairstyles, do you realize the differences between that and $500 hairstyles?
In every aspect of your life right now there are levels above it you don’t even know exist yet, and the most self-sabotaging mindset you can adopt is that you’re already aware of everything. Look at pro sports – why would a world champion boxer like Muhammad Ali have a trainer and a coach when he was already the best in his field? Why does Tiger Woods, the top-ranked golfer at the time of this writing, have a coach? Why do billionaires pay millions a year to mentors and advisers? Because they realize there is knowledge that even they don’t know they don’t know.
The Path From What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know To What You Know
Fortunately there are ways to start discovering these other levels of knowledge – use them and make it your habit to use them regularly to help expand your knowledge and your success exponentially…
- Follow the top thought leaders online. Use social media to follow great mentors like Jairek Robbins, Richard Branson, Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield and T. Harv Eker. Much of what they post will fall into the ‘what you know you don’t know’ category, but some will go beyond that or at least provide clues to the levels beyond that. Watch for references to books, seminars or people they’ve learned from and check out those resources too. Similarly, follow the top thought leaders in your own industry for the same reasons.
- Subscribe to the top general and specific magazines. Learn more about people from subscribing to layman magazines like Psychology Today. Learn about the global economy from The Economist magazine. Brush up on business reading Forbes & Entrepreneur magazines. If you’re a builder, take out a subscription to Architectural Digest. If you’re in marketing or upper management, you want to be reading Marketing Today and Advertising Age magazines. But don’t just read them – learn to recognize the clues to higher levels of learning and follow through by checking those out – especially references to further information or more advanced studies.
- Engage those who already know more than you do. Start interacting with and learning from those who already know more than you do about the subjects you’re most interested in. Strive to make one more such acquaintance each day or each week, either online or in person. Be attentive and supportive – there is no better way to stand out in someone’s mind than to engage them in intelligent conversation about a topic they’re passionately interested in and truly listen to what they say.
- Take courses that increase your ability to learn. To help even more, take courses that help you expand your mindset and/or improve your power of reasoning. Become a life-long student of psychology, reasoning, philosophy and the like – this is time invested in your personal growth as opposed to time wasted watching reality shows and other drivel designed to entertain while not fostering growth or even thought. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) courses can help a lot here too…
- Hire a personal success mentor. One of the fastest ways to find out what you don’t know you don’t know is to hire a personal success mentor. Because they work daily with people at higher levels from all different walks of life, personal success mentors are exposed to all different levels of business and personal growth. Their level of expertise will let them appraise the level you’re currently operating at vis-a-vis your goals, and from there they can help you guide your growth. Let them take you as far as they can, then use some of your new-found success to hire a new mentor a level or two up from there. If you’re prudent in your choice of mentors and follow their advice by taking daily action you could find it to be the best time, money and effort you’ve ever invested.
Learning to find, absorb and use the knowledge you don’t know you don’t know is the fastest path to a more happy, fulfilled and thoroughly enjoyable lifestyle. Once you experience the personal and professional growth it brings you’ll wonder why you didn’t start much earlier in life, and why so many others don’t live that way too. The answer, of course, is simple – they don’t yet know what they don’t yet know!