Monday, 2 June 2008

What you don’t know will make the difference

"It is not what you know. It is what you don’t know that will make the difference."

That phrase hanged on my mind for a very long time when I heard it from my mentor last Saturday.

That is exactly what made me dare to change in about half year ago.

Being a manager in a small software company at the age of 26, I thought I could do well in my life by slowly moving up the career ladder. But life and work were constantly a struggle and firefighting against one problem after another. There were always not enough time for everything. I had to do some of the things that I did not know how to do. So were the people in the company, even my boss at that time. I learnt from books and website and implemented many of my newly learnt skills. I learnt from my mistakes. I learnt things from my subordinates and colleagues as well. But somehow, things were not improving significantly and pressure was mounting. I knew 2 problems:

  1. I was not doing some of the things right.
  2. I was not doing the right things. Something was missing, something that I could not grasp.

Yes, there is always Google but when I typed the search “What is wrong with me?”, it directed me to see some psychiatrists, therapists or some other forms of medical help. I do not think they really can help in my case.

But when I typed “What is wrong with my job?”, it pointed me straight to my boss (Okay, I am just making this up just to please myself).

Finally, I yelled Mayday. Striving to restore order to my life, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and gave up my job. From there, life is a constant surprise to me because of the new things I discover and learn each day. I found I was largely ignorant of a lot of things in work and life.

So, I got the answer to my problems, generally speaking.

The cause to my problems was the things that I did not know. Of course, there are millions and billions things that I do not know. But most importantly, I did not even know what I do not know that would make the difference in my life.

That is why I am very grateful to my mentor. It has been a long time (since I was in my teens) that someone really teaches me things and corrects my mistakes in a way that substantially changes me. Sometimes, the subject of the teaching can be something simple yet need to be taught in details and broken into steps. For examples, groceries shopping involves one to maintain some sort of groceries list and check the inventories every week. I mean real efficient groceries shopping where there is always enough stock for everything. For examples, I do not need to run to the nearest convenient shop urgently or borrow from the neighbors when I do not have enough salt, because there should be enough stock for salt in the first place. Wait a minute, I do not really know my neighbours enough to borrow salts from them. On top of that, I do not need to wander aimlessly in the hypermarket or supermarket, wondering at what I should buy because I do not have a list. Hell yes, I am still perfecting the groceries shopping system after months and I am not joking about this.

But changing oneself is really not easy. I received quite a number of slaps on my head for making mistakes and when I did not listen to sound advices.

Anyway, I am expected to make a lot of mistakes and get corrected along the way. That is how I am supposed to learn. But the caveat is I am NOT supposed to repeat the same mistakes. So, that is where I got the slaps on my head. The only consolation is that I received a lot of pats on my head too. :)

So, ask yourself this - what you do not know that may make the difference in your life? If you do not know, ask someone who knows.

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