You Don'T Know What You Don'T Know


“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to lớn say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”- Donald Rumsfeld

Note: this post was originally published on 6th March 2014.

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Knowledge Matrix. (Source)

When it comes to knowledge, everyone has their areas of expertise and everyone also has some gaps. Most of the time you can identify where these gaps might be and admit that you don’t know much about the topic. Take astrophysics as an example; you know what the subject is, but you might not know a whole lot about it. The good news is that you know astrophysics is a ‘thing’ and if you decided you wanted khổng lồ learn about it then you could. You know that you don’t know about astrophysics; it’s a ‘known unknown’. But sometimes in life there are times when there are things that you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. These are the ‘unknown unknowns’.

Bear with me here, I know the English in the above statement isn’t all that it perhaps should be but this is something that I think is important and is particularly applicable to lớn how many people approach their pursuit of a new job or career.

When looking for a new job you have a couple easy options for ways to start your search. It might seem sensible to take yourself lớn a large generic job site. You could use Google to search for “Company X jobs”. If you know the industry then you might type “industry X jobs”.

What this approach doesn’t account for is that there might be industries & companies that you have never even heard of before. Industries that you didn’t even realise were a ‘thing’.

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The worst part is that you could be entirely overlooking a great potential career path, all because you don’t even know it exists. This could potentially be a big deal, especially if you kết thúc up in a job just because it seems lượt thích the obvious choice.

This was a massive hurdle that I personally came up against when searching for a job before deciding khổng lồ start my own company. The truth is that I had no idea what the options available khổng lồ me were và hence I was unable khổng lồ make an informed decision, knowing that I was making a good choice.

Being blind to things you don’t know that you don’t know can be pretty costly. Whether that’s in time, money, happiness or any other measure of the opportunity cost of missing out on something else. This is something that I think about a lot in many different areas and something I’m beginning khổng lồ notice more often. Sometimes, before making a decision based on the data you have in front of you, maybe take a step back and think to yourself ‘what am I missing here?’ ‘What vì chưng I not yet know, that I don’t know’.

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I guess the biggest question is how do you discover what you don’t know. Well, the easiest route would be talking to lớn people in the know; the experts. They might be able to chia sẻ valuable insights that you haven’t yet considered. It could mở cửa up a whole different perspective.