Je ne sais pas

15th June 2012

Je ne sais pas.

In French, this means “I don’t know” and it’s the only French I actually know. I was a Spanish minor, but this bit of French is one of my favorite phrases. My boyfriend did manage to take quite a bit of French throughout school, but this seems to be the only phrase that really stuck. Over the years, it’s become one of my favorites (maybe it has something to do with admitting doubt in a romance language that makes it more fun).

Within our careers, we all reach moments where we just don’t know; where we don’t have the answers. It can be incredibly easy to try to lead the charge and attempt to manage our days under the guise that we know it all, but it is my belief that sometimes admitting doubt can be even more difficult.

Peter Bregman tells a compelling story about his “I don’t know” moment and describes leadership as not the arrogance of having all of the answers but the confidence and humility to move forward even without all of the answers.

Everyday I am faced with “I don’t know” moments. Some days it feels like it’s all I do, but that’s the beauty in being human. No one holds all the cards. There is always someone to teach you the answers, and it’s your duty to find those leaders and allow them to shape your understanding.

I have had the incredible opportunity to learn and grow from some very smart people in my career who have influenced me more in ways they may never know. While it may be one of the most difficult tasks in you career, seek leaders, coworkers and friends who aren’t afraid to answer your questions and to transform your “I don’t know” moments into your strengths.

I certainly can’t remember every presentation I have given or been tasked to put together, but I can absolutely recall the hours spent collaborating with those leaders who were willing to take their time to help me get there.

I can’t wait to uncover my next challenge and to continue to meet those leaders who will ultimately guide me to become the leader I aspire to be.