The Certainty of a Little Knowledge

The old saying, “You don’t know, what you don’t know”
sounds like gibberish but is rather insightful.

This simple statement refers to the trap we find ourselves
in when we have only a little knowledge about a particular
topic.

For example, we read an article or attend a seminar about
the Affordable Care Act or FMLA and feel a degree of
certainty that we know all about the subject as a result
of viewing the “tip of the iceberg.”

Part of this sense of certainty can be attributed to the
fact that search engines have brought the world of
knowledge to us. We Google something and think that we
have fully grasped the nuances of a subject like Contract
Law or Direct Mail Marketing because we have searched a
few dozen websites on the topic.

HR POINTER: To watch an expert do something, is to observe
the simple act of mastery of a subject or craft that took
years to perfect. The mistake that we make in watching a
master is to assume that we know far more about something
that is often far more complex than we ever imagined.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book, “Outliers: The Story of
Success,” states that it takes about 10,000 hours of work
or study in a given discipline for someone to be so
accomplished that he/she “makes it look easy.”

The next time you are faced with a business decision that
“looks easy” and you are tempted to go it alone or Google
an answer, think twice and consider calling a specialist.

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