Do you know what you don’t know? It’s a bit of a conundrum, but wise business leaders know the limits of their knowledge and seek advice when they run up against those limits.

On the other hand, as Elvis sang, fools rush in and make ill-advised, hasty decisions.

Fortunately, understanding the limits of your expertise and in fact, growing beyond your current limits is not impossible and in this concise article, we explain your critical first steps.

Here’s a question for you: Can you easily and clearly describe what you don’t know?

If you are within your circle of competence, you can. You can make decisions quickly and accurately with detailed knowledge of what else you need to find out to make the right decision. You know what is knowable and what isn’t knowable, yet you’re not paralyzed by not knowing.

You have anticipated the objections you will get and have ready answers because you’ve heard them all before and created the best possible responses. You have deep knowledge and experience you can draw on and know where to go to get more information and advice as needed.

If the above describes your situation, you are operating within your circle of competence. Otherwise, you need to create a circle of competence to cover the areas you are not an expert in.

How Do You Do That?

One way is to hire someone you can rely on to bring specialized knowledge, such as an attorney, CPA, structural engineer, etc.

Another obvious way is for you to develop that circle of competence. You do that by being curious and being mature enough to include courses and people who can challenge your thinking to help you stretch the size of your circle of competence.

Do you think perhaps you don’t need help?

There is a monster of a problem many people have.

The problem is with honest self-assessment. We are overconfident and have an enemy within called Ego, which resists the idea we might be out of touch with reality. You see it in others who believe if they say it, then like Pharoah, it’s, “So it has been said, let it be so written.”

For them, fallibility isn’t a possibility.

Yet fallibility has always been with us; consider, for example, politicians, new billionaires, and so many celebrities. [quotesright] All of us know or have known bosses and friends who hold positions on subjects for which they have virtually no understanding. [/quotesright]

The results of making decisions outside one’s circle of confidence are not pretty. They can be fatal because Ego can lead us to make poor choices based on sketchy if not downright dangerous information. In business, it’s more likely the company will make some damaging but not fatal blunders based on poor decisions.

But not always.

There are monumental failures of mega-companies brought on by leaders who thought they knew everything better than anyone else and were infallible.

Since it’s obvious we cannot self-assess reliably, what should you do?

Start by reaching out to people who can help by observing and offering a new perspective on our competence. It’s an old story, thus the parable: “The emperor has no clothes!”

You can deny it’s true but everyone else sees the problem…

Change is Hard, Make It Easy

We all know cutting even a few calories takes monumental effort and we often quickly relapse.  If making lasting change is so difficult, how can we do better at being more self-aware and effective in our business roles?

Get a coach and trainer.

You do it in golf, tennis, swimming, archery, gymnastics, football, soccer. Why? Because it works!

They see you in action and have the experience and techniques to develop your abilities, eliminate bad habits, and break the self-imposed limits holding you back from being your best.

The same things are true in business, and today, with professional coaches and trainers available, they give you a sure path to rapid, lasting, and meaningful improvement.

Want to explore further? Questions? Get in touch and let’s set up a time to talk.