When I am working with a client, sometimes I find myself in the presence of a know-it-all. You really cannot help someone who has no room for coaching. If this is the default natural state of the client, I am likely to refer him or her to another coach, counselor or consultant, someone who “specializes” in whatever the client is seeking. When you say, “I know that” you already know all there is to know, you’re disconnected, shut down and unable to receive.
I prefer to work with individuals who are movers and shakers in the process of taking massive action, who are open and eager to look at things from another perspective, available to receive new ideas, and have the wherewithal to execute what we have learned. (I intentionally said, “we have learned,” because in most cases through this process we both attain new perspectives and knowledge.)
When you have an opportunity to attain a different perspective, grow, expand or learn something new and you say to the person you are working with, “I know that” alternatively, “I knew that already,” or any variation of, “I already knew that,” you have shut the door on attaining something valuable or have stated that your cup is already full and there is no room for you to grow.
It’s like the Asian tale of the student who seeks out the master, who upon making his acquaintance, insists on telling the master how great he is, how full of knowledge he is, in an effort to impress the master. Waiting to get a word in edgewise, while the student pauses, the master asks if the student might like some tea. The master hands the student a cup and begins pouring tea into the cup, but does not stop when the cup is full. The student protests, “Hey, old man, what’s wrong with you? You’re spilling tea everywhere!” Still pouring the tea, the master says, “You are like this cup. You are already full and there is no room for more.”
This is what you’re saying, when you say, “I know.”
The best students are the ones who come into any potential learning situation having first created a sacred space for new information. The best way to discover something new, or to see something from a different perspective, is to approach any opportunity as if you know nothing, as if you were a blank slate.
Yes, you may sit through a seminar, or an entire course, and you may have already studied the subject intensely (may even know more about the subject than the teacher) but you are open, looking at this opportunity with new eyes, as if you knew nothing previously.
Why? Because, who knows? If you are open and there is room in your cup, there may be that one drop of precious tea that is the game changer. You may take away something priceless, even if it’s only a drop, the drop that makes all the difference in your quest for knowledge. And, if you are open and have space set aside, you are likely to get so much more than a drop, maybe more, possibly an entire cup.
Whenever I meet someone who is proficient or an expert in my field, I am more likely to play down my part, to be humble and respectful, honoring the other person. I am more likely to ask them questions about their practice or expertise, listening to every word… for that one priceless drop of sacred tea.
Let’s face it, you can’t know everything, but if you do, more power to you.
If I’ve learned anything throughout my life’s journey, it’s that,
I may know a lot.
More than everything I know,
I know that I know nothing.
So, I am always open.
How about you?