Thought-full Thursday: Knowing What You Don’t Know


Every Thursday, we provide you with a thoughtful way to coach yourself – something all leaders need to do. So take five and enjoy the inspirational quotes and reflect on the questions that follow. Your comments and answers to the questions are most welcome!


Wise bosses are devoted to knowing what they don’t know. They act boldly on facts they have right now, but search for signs they are wrong – seeking a healthy balance between courage and humility.” ~Robert Sutton in Good Boss, Bad Boss


  • Are you regularly taking the stance that there are things that you don’t know?
  • What do you (actively) do to search for signs that you are wrong?
  • What will you commit to doing in the future to search for signs that you are wrong?


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

6 comments on “Thought-full Thursday: Knowing What You Don’t Know

  1. Yeah, I always take the stance that there are things that I don’t know.
    It is also very hard for me to find the signs that I am wrong in daily life. So I hope my couple of days life can be recorded in a DVR so that later I can review myself as a
    stand-by subjectively. That is a pretty good way for me to find my wrong and weakness.

  2. Thanks for the great quote. Unfortunately, I think most managers, and myself, aren’t actively introspective about their management and what they may be doing wrong (or right). Of course, most people think they are managing with humility and openness but, at the end of the day, they guard their opinions and style fiercely. Hopefully, with the knowledge of my closed-mindedness I can work towards this type of thinking.
    Thanks for the great post.

  3. Sean, I appreciated your humility and openness with your comments! I hope that you will find time to be introspective and reflect on your leadership; my guess is that is what will propel you ahead of the rest. Best wishes.

  4. I have been in school for longer than most. With each year of classes, I learn more about what it is that I do not know. There was a time when I thought I knew everything; however, with a 3 year-old daughter, I now realize how little I know.

    At work, I have learned to seek out others (some in my department, some above my department, some that report to my department) who are trying to improve (learn) themselves. We are able to share ideas, critique each other, share different perspectives and approaches. By building relationships and sharing dialogue with others, I am able to feed off their intelligence to make my decisions wiser. Our collegiality sustains each other and makes us better.

    Also, these Thought-full Thursday posts have provided me with a great opportunity for reflection. There are times when I am wrong and would realize it if only I took the time to reflect. Thank you for providing such a forum.

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