People seem to have a lot of opinions about lots of things, but it’s okay to not have an view on something you don’t know much about. Sometimes the most powerful stance you can take on something is to say “I don’t know,” and then go do your own research before form an opinion.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: So, Ronnie and I did an episode a bit ago where I talked about how I think it’s really important to admit when you’re wrong, and that’s something I’ve learned throughout all of life, and not even just when you’re wrong, like, oh, I shouldn’t have said that to you, but even when you’re wrong in an argument, I remember when I first became political or philosophical, whatever you want to say, and I would just, I would go down with a ship, even I would die on a hill even if I was wrong on that hill. And so I’ve learned that people respect you, even people who don’t agree with you politically if you’re willing to say you’re wrong when you’re wrong. So, I wanted to continue on that sentiment on that thought and talk about another phrase that I’ve learned over my, we won’t say how many years on this earth that I think has just been really important. And it’s one of those phrases that I wish politicians would say more. I wish everybody would say more. So, today I want to talk about the phrase I don’t know. So, again, like I said with the admitting when I was wrong, I used to just think, well, one, I used to just straight up make up facts. I’ll be honest with you, Connor, because I think I used to be so passionate about something that I would think, well, as long as it was like an ends justify the means thing. We’ve talked about this before where I thought, okay, as long as my end goal is good, I can kind of say whatever I need to because my emotions would get so impassioned. And I was so passionate about what I was talking about that I didn’t want to say I was wrong and I didn’t want to say I don’t know. Because you don’t have to have an opinion on everything. And that’s something else that I think I wish I would’ve known because people would ask me something and instead of me just saying, I don’t know, tell me more about that. I think I would just try to form an opinion without having a lot of information. I dunno. Connor, did you ever do anything like that?
Connor: I think I did. In fact, I know I did because, or even, again, we’re being honest, right? You’re being vulnerable, we’re
Brittany: Being honest.
Connor: I’ll be vulnerable here. I find for whatever reason, and I don’t know if this is just humans in general, it probably is, but maybe it’s me in particular when I’m asked, Hey, have you heard of this book? Or, Hey, are you familiar with the speaker or whatever? I find that by default I’ll sometimes lie or mislead. I don’t know if it’s this animal alligator brain in me that it’s like, oh, I don’t want to look stupid or I don’t want to look like I don’t know enough. And so this happened to me just a couple of weeks ago. So, then I’m racking my brain in the conversation like, oh, I should probably tell ’em like, oh, hey, I didn’t actually wasn’t familiar with that book you mentioned. And even as a parent, I find that my kids do this, and I’m kind of coming down hard on them. I’m like, Hey, why did you tell me you brushed your teeth when you hadn’t? And oh, I don’t know. It came out. And then I’m realizing, well, wait a minute. I’m struggling with the same thing as an adult. Maybe I need to. So, I don’t know, maybe this is a problem that a lot of us have. And I think for me, I’ve had to realize I need to be more proactive in my mind so that when I’m asked questions to immediately have the first thing that comes to my mind, be answered authentically. And it’s okay. You were just saying to say, I don’t know, especially because sometimes when I’m asked, they’re silly things I gain nothing from, and then I might get caught in the lie later on when they’re like, Hey, what was your favorite part? And so I don’t know why I do this to myself. And I used to lie a lot as a kid, so I’ve wondered if that’s just stuck with me that I have some of these default things in my brain, but I don’t know. So, maybe it’s more common than I thought it was.
Brittany: You said, because I think I used to, I had never lied about big things. It was never a big thing. And honestly, we could do a whole nother episode on the problem with white lies. It was just little things like you said, it was just like someone would be like, oh, were you just over there? Yeah, I was, wait, no, I wasn’t. Or just weird things and then I just wouldn’t correct it. So, it’s funny you bring that up. That makes me feel better, but I’m going to switch to something. So we’re talking about when we have been, we didn’t know, and we said that we did. And I want to think about it from the other side, and I’m going to pick on my sister for a moment, but my sister is definitely not listening to this podcast, so she should. So, when my sister and I ever get into a debate on anything, I have since learned that the best thing to do is just not debate her at all, but she’ll just start pulling facts out of thin air. And I’ve messed with her, Connor, I’ll be honest, where I’ve made up something not real to see what she says, and she’ll be like, oh yes, well, I’ve read that study. And I’m like, okay, it’s not a real study, but that’s alright. But she gets very, very emotional and she’ll do this. And I know that it makes me feel really frustrated and it doesn’t bring out the best part of being, because like I said, I made up something just to see if she would go with it. That’s funny, but it makes me not want to have conversations with her. That’s what I think the big thing is here is when somebody can’t just openly say, I don’t know. I don’t really want to talk to them about anything serious because I know my best friends, the people I have really good conversations with, it’s a back-and-forth dialogue where I can say, okay, I disagree with you on that, I think, but maybe I don’t have enough information. Can you tell me more about this? Or another one of my sisters, she and I are always, she’s got more of a medical background than I do, but we just kind of trade back and forth and we’re willing to read each other’s links that we send her. But with my other sister, she’ll just make up stuff or she’ll pretend to understand what I’m talking about and it makes me not want to talk to her because there’s no humility there. Humility is a big thing I want to bring up because humility is the ability to be, it’s funny, I know what the word means, and then when you go to break it down, it’s harder. But that’s exactly why we have this podcast Breaking down big concepts, but humble. So, when you think of humility, think of humble. If somebody’s good at something, they’re constantly telling you how good they are, or when you give ’em a compliment and they’re just like, oh, I know you don’t really want to hang out with that person. But if somebody’s humble and they’re very modest about the things they’re going to, or even about their own knowledge, I think it’s a lot easier to talk to them because you know that if they don’t know something, they’ll admit it, but that they’ll also be patient with you. And so that humility makes a good conversation just even better because you’re able to have that dialogue. So, I dunno if you have any thoughts on that.
Connor: Well, I find it interesting, there’s different definitions of humility, but I think some of the definitions focus on this idea that humility or being humble is to have low self-regard. In other words, you don’t regard yourself highly. I’m so important, I’m so amazing. The ego is another word for that, right? Thinking of yourself. And also humility is a sense of worthiness, not this entitlement mentality of like, I deserve this. None of you, I deserve more than all of you. I’ve worked so hard for this. I’m so amazing. You should all be thankful to be associated with me. Those are all a feeling of worthiness like I am alone and worth. But a feeling of unworthiness is like, man, I’m just so grateful to be here. It’s amazing that I get to do this. It’s awesome that I got to participate in that event. Oh, it’s so great to have this family that I do. I know that others are less fortunate and hey, yeah, I did some okay things, but I mess up too. I’m just trying my best. So, you regard yourself lowly rather than highly, and you have a sense of unworthiness rather than worthiness of just, so I think humility and gratitude are very closely connected for that reason. And so I like how you’re tying this Brittany to being willing to say, I don’t know, because I think you’re right. I think it is a sign of humility because when I fall into my trap of saying that I read a certain book or whatever the answer is, or the question is, I think it’s because I want to think highly of myself. I want the other person to think highly of me. So I’m trying to project and be like, we’ve talked way back when about those prey-like animals, like puffer fish or whatever, have the ability to expand their size to look bigger than they actually are because they’re trying to scare off a predator. And so there’s all these different animals that have these abilities when threatened to puff up or peacocks, they’ll fan out all their feathers, so they’ll look really menacing or whatever. And so I wonder if some of that is applying here where I’m trying to look bigger than I am. I’m trying to inflate my ego, inflate my reputation. And so I’m saying these things that aren’t true. And I think it’s the opposite. We often think that humility is a weakness. I think society kind of projects that a little bit, that humble people are weak, that it’s the arrogant people who are the strong, the type A people, the bullies, the celebrities, whatever. But the longer I live, I think that’s completely backwards, that sometimes those people are like the weakest people. They’re projecting, they are puffing themselves up. They’re inflating their ego or our perception of them. But then you read some of these stories about how they’re actually miserable, certainly can’t generalize, but a lot of these people are miserable and they’re just caught in this cycle, this trap of always pretending to be bigger than they are, and look like this impressive person all the time. Whereas meeting people who are truly humble, they’re some of the greatest leaders that I’ve ever known and really genuine people, and you want to be like them, and they have influence over you and countless other people. And that’s leadership, that’s power. And those are people who are willing to say, I don’t know. I’m always a student, even though I’m a super smart person and I’ve read a bajillion books and I speak all over the country and I consult for all these companies and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Hey, I’m just a student. I’m still figuring things out. I talked a few months ago to this brilliant guy who was older, and that was his approach. He’s like, I’m just curious. I’m always learning and I’ll share along the way what I’ve learned. But it was just such a humble approach, I wasn’t saying I’m an expert, and look at all these degrees I have from colleges and all these fancy things I’ve done. He wasn’t like that at all. It was just like, I’m just curious and I want to learn. So, I don’t know. I’ve come to believe that humility is actually strength. And so with my own little weakness here, I’m trying to realize, get over that. I don’t know if that’s my teenage part of my brain. Like, oh, I got to keep up the lie. And so I realized it’s okay for me to admit that I don’t know something. And so I don’t know. This topic is a good one for me to reflect on.
Brittany: That makes me happy. It’s funny when I thought of this, I’m like, this might sound weird to say, I don’t know, but what made me think about it is, and our politicians, because I would’ve had, and I get, everybody was scared. I mean, I will admit even I was scared when all of a sudden my work was getting shut down and everyone had to work from home, and it was just so different. But I would’ve felt so much better if we had people in government just saying, we don’t know yet. We don’t really know what’s going on. Nobody knows this is a brand new thing. They call it a novel, that word novel because it’s new or it’s a unique virus. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know if masks work, if you want to wear one, if it makes you feel better, go ahead and wear one, but we’re not going to tell you to do it. We don’t know. Or if they would’ve said something like, you know what? This vaccine is brand new. We really don’t know if it works. I don’t know. We don’t know. I think that it would’ve been a lot easier. And I think more people, well, I kind of think it’s good that people lost trust for government, but I think fewer people would’ve lost trust for government. Because I think there’s something like you said, very noble about just saying, I don’t know. And so I think COVID was a really big turning point in my thinking of how wise it would be for someone to just say, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know. I don’t have the information yet.
Connor: Well, we’ve talked before about how COVID has destroyed this idea of experts who an experts. And the experts are always wrong. And yet when you do things through the government, it’s all authoritarianism. It’s all based on authority. We say, so we’re doing this. It’s right because we say so. So, government with COVID, it’s like we know best. We know what you should do. Don’t wear masks. Oh, wait, now wear masks. Okay. And hey, vaccines are going to slow this. And so they change their minds all the time because they’re often wrong. And yet what they do is this very top-down-authority-driven model where they have to appear. They know what’s going on because again, society says that people who are assertive and bold and in your face and making these declarations are the strong people. The government doesn’t ever want to appear. Weak politicians don’t want to. They’re not going to be humble. And so then I think about the school system. Our entire school system is structured around authority. A teacher stands up and conveys information to the children. And so the students just sit there and passively listen because they’re learning from the source of all knowledge, the teacher in the textbook. And so that’s why when I talk at a lot of different homeschool conferences and when I’m out there talking to homeschool families, I say, I think the worst way to homeschool, in fact, I don’t even like the term because I don’t like this idea of schooling in the home. I think the school model is the problem, at least the conventional traditional government-type school model. But a lot of homeschool families will just replicate that same system in their homes. And I say, whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on. Home education. That is true learning, you need to imagine this specifically. If a child goes, a homeschooled child goes to mom and says, Hey, mom, I want to learn about clouds, the different types of clouds. Why are some fluffy and some flat? Well, that mom could try and appear smart and go Google it, and then be the authoritarian teacher and impart that wisdom onto her child. Or imagine the power. Getting to our whole lesson here, imagine the power of that Mom simply said, I don’t know, honey, let’s look it up together. Because suddenly that parent is showing her child it’s okay to not know things even as adults. I mean, I don’t know about you. I grew up feeling like adults know everything. I felt very intimidated that all these smart people were out there. And so, man, I have to learn. And then I’ve realized adults don’t know anything.
Brittany: Nope. If I know everything, I am terrified of this world.
Connor: The most important thing is just to know how and where to find things when you need it. That’s the skill. And so if mom says, I don’t know, honey, let me show you where we can find answers like that. That’s amazing. That’s true learning. You’ve given your child a skill and you’ve shown her that it’s okay not to know. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know and that there’s power in that because then we can become students and we can go find the answers. So, this has been a really good topic. I imagine all of us struggle with this. We all are always trying to project that we’re important or doing good things or competent or whatever. And so for the kids out there listening to recognize that we adults don’t really know that much and we’re still figuring it out, we just pretend really well that we know what we’re doing. That’s the big secret of it.
Brittany: Some of it is better than others.
Connor: Some of us are better than others. We’ll leave it there. Brittany, great topic. Thank you. I appreciate it. And until next time, we’ll talk to you later.
Brittany: Talk to you later.