Tag Archives: expert

“I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.” was one of the phrases I previously feared using the most.

Now I embrace it.

What did I used to think “I don’t know.” said about me?

  1. I was uninformed.
  2. I was unprepared.
  3. I wasn’t as good as someone else.
  4. I was vulnerable and weak.

Questions I wanted to answer “I don’t know.” to but was too afraid:

  1. What were the annual sales of this product two years ago?
  2. How long will it take to create that new report?
  3. What changes did Kathy’s group make that cut their lead time by 15%?
  4. What would be the benefit of assigning that project to another team?

Having to say “I don’t know.” struck fear in my heart and left me feeling stressed, anxious and exhausted.  I had convinced myself that there was an expectation that I knew everything all the time.   I certainly didn’t.  I felt like an imposter.

I will admit, there were times when I truly didn’t know but would try to bluff my way through anyway.  Not a strategy I would recommend as on more than one occasion this strategy did not work out well . . . at all.

But in actuality “I don’t know.” can be incredibly powerful, made even stronger followed by “Let me find out.”  What does using these two simple phrases say about you?

  • You are honest about your knowledge.
  • You know your limitations.
  • You are open to exploration.
  • You do not always need to be the expert.
  • You are willing to be vulnerable, making it easier for others to be vulnerable around you.

Who would you prefer to be known as?  The person in the bullet points above, or the stressed, anxious, and exhausted person that considers themselves an imposter.

I don’t know, do you?

Cindy Jobs, COC, ACC

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What’s Your Power Base: Love or Fear?

“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.”                                         –Mahatma Gandhi (brainyquote)

I’ve been reading an incredible book about power. Until recently, my thoughts about power had taken a negative bent: bullying, threats of violence, demeaning words or actions, etc.  The kind of stuff I hope no one ever associates with me.

Personally, I’m not at all interested in having power in an aggressive or assertive way; but I’m very interested in how I can use my power of information, intent, skills, and passion to help move people to the next level of their lives.

When I was choosing a visual image for this post,  waves seemed like the perfect metaphor for defining the two kinds of power: “power to” (Gandhi’s love based) and “power over” (fear based).   A wave’s power to carry a skilled surfer beautifully to the shore has a much different feel than when those same waves have the power over us to physically knock us down when we least expect it.

According to social psychologists J. P. R. French Jr. and B. Raven, there are six basic bases of power:

  1. Coercion: Threat of force, disapproval, or rejection. The main goal being compliance. (Generally Power Over)
  2. Reward: The right of some to approve or deny rewards. (Both Power Over and Power To)
  3. Legitimacy: Generally granted as a position of authority. (Both Power Over and Power To)
  4. Expert: Based on knowledge, experience, and skills. (Both Power Over and Power To)
  5. Referent: Based on affiliation. (Both Power Over and Power To)
  6. Informational: Based on the potential to utilize information. (Generally Power To)

As examples, using power with children:

  1. Coercion: “Adults don’t like children that don’t eat their vegetables.”
  2. Reward: “Unless you eat your vegetables, you don’t get any dessert.” Or, “If you eat your vegetables you can have ice cream for dessert.”
  3. Legitimacy:  “I’m an adult, just do what I say.” Or, “As an adult, it’s important that I keep you safe.”
  4. Expert:  “I’m better than you at this, just do it my way. Or, “As an adult, I know you need a life jacket if you are going to the beach.”
  5. Referent: “I love the energy of a two-year old!” Or, “No wonder they call it the ‘terrible twos,’ they are all undisciplined and wild.”
  6. Informational: “I know multiple ways to solve this problem.  Let’s explore the best one.”

How do you want to be known for using your power?

Cindy Jobs


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