You have experienced this in many places, especially in offices.
Your manager or boss talks about big ideas and uses words that are full of hot air. And in every meeting, he (or she) speaks the same thing. Again and again.
Or sometimes, he suddenly gets angry, or is always reserved, or acts as if he is hiding something.
If you observe closely, behind this brimming ego, what you’ll see is a lack of knowledge or skills.
But, he fears admitting that he doesn’t know something.
To admit that you don’t know something is a big relief. It makes you humane and creates empathy among your co-workers, friends, and family.
But it’s not true that only certain people do this all the time. You and I have done this at least a few times in our lifetime.
I remember something I did when I was in high school.
One day, I was walking from the classroom towards our dormitory. One of my classmates was passing by, and she stopped me. She wanted to ask me the meaning of a Kannada term from the subject she was studying. I told her the meaning without a second thought.
During that time, my classmates thought I was very good at the Kannada language. And to some extent, I was good too. I used to read a lot and practiced creative writing most of the time.
That was exam time, and I still remember her reaction when I answered her question. (Oh God, he knows everything.)
But I was not sure. I went back and checked the dictionary. I was wrong. (No, I didn’t go back and admit it with her.)
But I felt ashamed at what I did.
I had to change how I dealt with such things. You can’t keep the reputation by doing such dumb things, you see.
And not exactly from that day, but over the years, I developed my mindset to admit when I didn’t know something.
But admitting that you don’t know something doesn’t solve the problem.
By accepting you don’t know something, you may appear truthful for the time being. But such repeated admissions create a bad impression about you in the long run. Also, you’re not helping either yourself or the person asking the question.
So, whenever such situations arise, I use a different approach. I answer the question by saying: “I think <THIS> is the answer. But, let’s Google it to make sure”.
This stops me from growing my ego, or even meekly accepting my lack of knowledge.
And when you’re working in a particular field, you cannot escape by saying you don’t know. You will have to try to understand it and be able to answer as quickly as possible. The best is to do it immediately.
If you neglect that, your colleagues or subordinates won’t respect you.
But an even more dangerous situation is when you maintain you know everything. With that, you begin to create an inner fear. And subconsciously you try to cover it up by keeping yourself reserved. It makes you angry often or you begin to talk bigger nonsense.
So, if you don’t work to learn your trade well, you tend to grow an unnecessary ego.
Again, learning is not about reading something and thinking you know everything.
For example, imagine that your team is implementing a new SaaS product. Reading the product instructions or watching a YouTube demo is not going to be enough.
You’ll have to have hands-on experience with the product. Because that’s how you’ll know the actual challenges your team is going to face. Otherwise, you’ll be clueless when your team talks about it in meetings.
If you do that extra work, you’ll be able to answer them well, and you’ll be a good leader.
Remember, if you don’t grow your skills continuously, you tend to grow your ego.
What do you think?