Johnnie Moore

Non-knowing growing

the best learning often comes from discovery, not being told things
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Sometimes knowledge stops us learning

Transcript of this video:

I remember all decades ago going on a training course spread out over several months. It cost two or three thousand pounds I think.

And we were handed a very thick ring binder at the beginning of the course to fill with its content.

I think at the time I was quite impressed by this.

And when I’d finished the course, I put it in a cupboard where it then languished for the next 15 years, pretty much never opened again.

Eventually I threw it out because I realised I was never going to read it again.

I suspect we rather overvalue that kind of written content in a lot of our training. I was reminded of this the other day, walking past WH Smith here in Cambridge, where there was a poster in the window where the entrepreneur, Steven Bartlett, was featured holding a pile of business books which were all on offer at WH Smith.

And I remember sort of smiling at this conceit that we fall into that if we read enough, if we accumulate enough knowledge, we will be transformed into successful entrepreneurs like Steven.

And we overfill, if you like, our prefrontal cortex with information, hoping that this will change us, that we can use knowledge to transform.

That sounds very sensible, doesn’t it?

But I’m quite attracted to a different idea of what my friend Lois Holzman calls, non-knowing, growing.

It’s what babies do when they learn to walk. They get up, they fall over, they get up, they fall over, and they gradually figure out what walking is. They don’t know how to walk.

They don’t expect to know how to walk to find it out. They probably don’t even know that they’re learning.

I find in my work a lot of the time, the most exciting and the most humanly satisfying stuff happens when we allow ourselves to fall into a space of non-knowing growing, where somehow there’s permission to fall over a bit, to fail, to explore, where we’re taken by surprise, by discoveries.

Those discoveries, those insights that come not from knowing, but from breaking out of non-knowing, from being in non-knowing, I think they tend to last and can be incredibly useful and satisfying.


Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

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