How well do you know yourself? How about the world around you? While I'd like to think I know myself well, I always find there is more to learn. And when it comes to the world, oh my - how little I know!
Read on if you want to learn how much more there is to know
How much or how little do we know?
Never in history has there been a better opportunity to learn about ourselves and our world. All that is needed is an internet connection, something with a browser, and a search engine to access the vast stores of information, knowledge, and wisdom available to anyone.
How often are you curious enough to dig into a subject you know little about? Without curiosity, nothing happens. No questions come forth, which can leave you in the dark.
Without questions, you will learn and gain nothing.
But when you are curious, and questions arise, the possibilities are limitless!
With enough curiosity, you can ask powerful questions, which, when acted on, can lead to powerful results.
Since your thoughts form your world, you can enlarge your world by asking yourself powerful, thoughtful questions. The more answers you find, the more you grow.
As you grow in knowledge, your world grows. As your world grows, you find more opportunities.
With increased opportunity, you put yourself in a position to achieve more. As you achieve more, you inevitably reap more which can lead to a more fulfilling life.
A fulfilled life is a better and happier life with more meaning, significance, and impact.
Let's look at a different way of understanding what you know and what you do not know.
The circle of knowledge
Are you familiar with a concept called the circle of knowledge?
Imagine a circle that contains all of your current knowledge. Now, look at the edge of the circle. This edge consists of all those things you are aware of but know little about.
For example, you may know a gasoline engine and transmission propel your car but understand little of how they work. That knowledge is beyond the circle's edge and what you know. Learning occurs at this edge, which can enlarge as you learn more.
Outside the circle is the vast knowledge of the universe, all of which is beyond your awareness. Let's look at the edge of your knowledge for a moment. We can call this line the learning edge of what you know that you don't know, as depicted in the graphic below.
As your knowledge grows, you will find so does your learning edge. That means you will grow what you know that you don't know.
The circle of self-awareness
Now, let's think of another circle, but instead of representing your total knowledge, this circle represents what you understand about yourself. We will call this circle the circle of self-awareness.
The circle will be small if you know little about yourself, as on the left in the drawing below. You will also be aware of less at the learning edge of your awareness.
As you increase self-awareness, you increase your inner capacity and learning edge, as the right side of the drawing shows. You will know yourself better and realize how much more there is to learn.
So long as you remain curious, you will stay inspired to learn more about yourself, increasing the size of your circle of self-awareness.
Let's now look at three questions that can greatly enlarge both your circle of knowledge, as well as your circle of self-awareness.
The three questions
In Kevin Cashman's book Leadership from the Inside Out, there's an old story from pre-revolutionary Russia in which a priest, while walking down a road, is stopped by a soldier.
With his rifle aimed at the priest, the soldier asks, "Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?"
The priest, unfazed by the barrage of questions, replies, "How much do they pay you?"
The surprised soldier responds, "Twenty-five kopeks a month."
Pausing in a deeply thoughtful way, the priest says, "I have a proposal for you. I will pay you fifty kopeks a month if you will stop me every day and challenge me with those same three questions."
1. Who are you?
2. Where are you going?
3. Why are you going there?
I challenge you to try the following exercise excerpted from my bestselling book, Uncommon Sense.
The 30-Day Challenge
During the next month—using your journal, a computer, or a pen and paper—write down and ask yourself each of the three questions.
- Who am I?
- Where am I going?
- Why am I going there?
Be sure to date each time you answer them for thirty consecutive days. While you might think you will come up with the same answers each day, be forewarned—your answers will often change considerably over time!
If you seriously consider the questions, each day can add something new. At the end of a month, you will have far greater clarity and understanding of yourself, who you are, what you want, where you are going, and why.
The process is simple. Write without judgment. This allows what is in your mind to flow naturally and frees up your thinking, eliminating stress. Try to write at the same time each day. For me, this was first thing in the morning, but whatever works for you is the right time.
Try not to look at each day's previous writings. This will reduce their influence on what is in your heart that day. Write with enjoyment, without worry, and with a heart of peace to allow you to be fully present in your writing. Stress and worry close the mind, while fun, lightness, joy, and peace open it.
I had days where little surfaced for my answers and other days where much emerged. Some days, I had ordinary thoughts, and on other days, the thoughts were extraordinary. Some days I wrote only a few words, yet on other days I would write a great deal.
The insight I gained has been invaluable. You will find significant gain by making a legitimate effort to do this exercise.
You will have done something very few people have ever done: looking into the deepest parts of your being, unearthing real treasure.
What to expect
Because your thoughts, moods, and emotions often shift—even if ever-so-slightly—from one day to the next, you will likely have different or new thoughts every day. Again, start fresh daily without reviewing previous writings, capturing whatever comes to mind.
Second, by asking yourself these three powerful questions repeatedly, you will shift your mind into gear, so to speak. Even your unconscious mind will begin to work on answers and ideas.
Just allow it to happen. Do not strain or stress, or it will shut down your thinking. Allow the answers to come naturally. Don't judge your words before you write them.
You will likely experience some real insights, and things will become clearer. You will find new opportunities you had never considered.
Third, in getting down to the fundamentals of who you are, where you're going, and why you are going there, you take the leadership position and begin working on your life. Working on your life will produce far more fruit than only working in it.
This exercise will help you see things you've never noticed, allowing you to reflect and question them, to develop new perspectives. Your thinking will automatically enlarge, allowing you to become more of who you really want to be.
You and your future are worth investing a few minutes each day, aren't they? Of course they are!
You are more than worth the investment! And remember, you are not alone in this life. Doing the exercise will not only enhance your life but also improve the lives of all those you know and care about because of the person you will become.
Why not take the challenge and do it?!