NOT KNOWING – The power of “holding” a question?

I would like you to share my experience about the difference between knowing and answering a question, and not-knowing  and holding a question.  The difference between this two is very important, powerful and ads value in the creation processes.

People In their personal lives and especially people that manage and lead other people often have difficulty with not knowing the answer to something. My life shows me that there are 2 main obstacles we face when we deal with the unknown.

First is the powerful believe present in our western culture that if we don’t know or solve the question/issue,  we are stupid, inadequate, not good enough etc.
The second obstacle is the feeling of not knowing itself.  In my experience, both as a human being and as a coach, this is one of the most difficult feelings to sit with and be present.
The cocktail of not knowing and the believe about “not knowing” is a blend that presents an amazing challenge to anyone. Anyone who recognises and has faced this, will know the mixture of impatience, frustration and reactive impulses to do something and fill the gap of not knowing.

So how do we approach this challenge as people, coaches or leaders?

The main and perhaps the key thing that can help us when we face the unknown is practicing and staying present. Since the art of staying present is so big and for most of us who are learning it, is a lifelong practice and deserves a whole book itself, I will just say that if you would like to be healthy, wealthy and lead others, practicing presence is task number 1.

The second key is to learn to design meaningful KEY QUESTIONS.
As a coach, I learned to ask powerful, well designed question. But lately I am exploring the not knowing terrain and instate of answering, I hold and remind myself of a question on a daily base.
The difference between knowing – having the answer and exploring the answer, makes a valuable difference. It keeps the creative tension, it expands the comfort zone and it brings multitude of options, scenarios and possibilities. If you knew the answer, the creative tension would have gone, and with it the enlarged options for new knowing to unfold continuously.
This difference is particularly useful when we are working with a team that needs to develop a new strategy, approach or innovate a solution.
The permission to hold the question and not to know, after the initial period of tension relaxes the system. It creates supportive environment “container” where trying different things is OK. This is especially useful for the CEO or the top manager of the team since it removes from his back the unbearable burden of knowing it all, and having the fix for everything. It allows the team to participate, get included and come up with collective solutions.  Since the solutions are collective, the responsibilities are shared all the way from planning to delivery.  Teams that work in such environment are bursting with creativity and innovation and have healthier and more aligned cultures.

The themes I’ve been writing about in this blog are expanded in my latest book Diamond Leadership available on Kindle.

Categories: Diamonding

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. This must have taken a little while to build online. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • You are welcome.

      The experience and the research,covered in the subject themes on this blog span over 15 years.
      The blog itself was easy to build, still it has been several years in making, and the book was published only last month after a very innovative project in culture transformation on national level that started in 2009.

      So yes, it takes time.

      Thanks for the support


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