One of the most expensive catchphrases in business and in life is: “I already know that.”
As Harvey Mackay wrote, “By my count, more business leaders have failed and derailed because of arrogance than any other character flaw.”
In this blog, I invite you to eliminate “I know that” from your lexicon, even if you think it’s a fact.
Behind “I know that” is a sense of false pride that doesn’t allow us to be active listeners. If we think this way, we can naively believe we know it all, and we won’t be able to understand creativity and possibility.
We can potentially hinder our growth and new possibilities of success in all fields.
Some years ago, I was temporarily helping a friend in his business. I saw him get paid a check that seemed fraudulent to me. As I was trying to point out the mistake, he arrogantly said, “I’ve been in business long enough; I know that.” He took the check as payment and saw his merchandise go. End of story—the check bounced and recovering his merchandise was a nightmare.
On another occasion, as I was working with my husband in his car business, a client came and asked to test drive a car. When I asked for his driver’s license, he gave me an excuse that he left it at home by accident. My husband approached and said, “No problem; you’re fine,” and he gave him the keys. As I have a background in law, I told him not to do that, but he said, “I know that, but I know people. I’ve been in business for a long time; I know what I’m doing.” End of story—that man stole the car and my husband sank into depression and shame. His car was found weeks later crashed.
J.K. Rowling received twelve rejections for her Harry Potter manuscript from various editors who thought “they knew best.” Every day, precious opportunities are missed out of arrogance.
I also have lost countless opportunities due to arrogance. I can recall attending seminars on personality types, and thinking, I know that. Just like that, I would judge the content and stop listening. I remember feeling a sense of envy that this person was talking about something I thought I knew better, and, just like that, I hindered my own progress.
Life is like re-viewing a movie and finding details you overlooked the first time you watched it. You remain surprised that you didn’t see them before.
Its like playing with a Rubik’s cube. We can all say we know the cube; we know we’re supposed to be able to match faces. However, there are so many ways of “seeing” the cube, and so many more ways to put it together.
If we want to be successful in any field, we need to curtail any feeling of arrogance in the name of growth.
A Smarter Way
I believe in constant growth, and, personally, I think it begins with self-knowledge. Why does it bother me when someone is trying to teach me something I think I know better? What is the source of my irritation? Can I humble myself and see other points of view?
Self-esteem can be confusing. It doesn’t mean we know it all; it’s actually the opposite. It’s feeling confident that I’m not always right; it’s making room for creativity and continuous growth.
Today, I’ve made it a habit to listen actively to something I think I already know. I’m surprised at the gifts I’ve received in return. A little over a year ago, I listened to advice I thought I knew. As a result, I lost weight like never before, shaped my body to my desire, and I am enjoying new strength.
"Knowledge makes people humble. Arrogance makes people ignorant."