Thinking about the pressure to “know the answer.”
It is an unconscious pressure. At least it was for me. And as the Passenger song says, “you only know you miss the light when it’s burnin’ low.” Not that I miss the pressure of needing to know the answer. It’s that the awareness only comes when you notice the contrast.
I’m grateful to expect to know more later…to get more information gradually. I can know the answer for now and “the now” a bit down the road and maybe even a bit further down the now road. But expecting more information and being open to more information is so hopeful and gentle!
It’s a comforting stance that was not modeled for me in my family nor taught in all the managerial and leadership courses in my various careers and positions. My mom and dad both used the “you-should-know-better” feedback phrase popular in their parenting generation…bless them both. And the popular vision of the successful leader certainly built on that expectation of the leader’s worth being measured in knowing all the answers and knowing them before everybody else. Is that too harsh an assessment of last century’s leader characterization? Did I just make that up or just hear the wrong advice? I do remember a very successful leader’s admonition “don’t ever let them know you’re in doubt, Val.”
The real downside for a leader’s having all the answers and doing all the talking in all those company and organization meetings is that the quietest voice doesn’t get heard. Even the normally louder voices are “taught” the quiet behavior and unconsciously turn off the thinking that is the fertile soil for innovation.
I don’t think that anyone in any age or generation really thinks in terms of teaching arrogance. But isn’t that the ultimate result? It’s a puzzle isn’t it…valuing decisiveness, strength of conviction, persuasiveness and valuing doubt, openness, and transparency of vulnerability? Ah, the balancing act of talents and talents taken to extreme!
All I know is that it feels one heck of a lot better to look forward to getting more information, choosing to decide on and accept the real-sized now step. The contrast is palpable…being desperate to work out the answer now, staying awake fearing consequences of being wrong with all its follow-on imagined consequences. Easier, gentler…welcome lovely and strong humility!