Develop This Skill Now: Admit What You Don’t Know

Posted November 12, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

One of the greatest strengths you can harness might sound strange to you, but it’s truly key to becoming successful. You must harness the strength of admitting what you don’t know. One of the easiest ways to get discredited, disrespected, and disappointed in business is to pretend you know it all and act like you don’t need help. Even Bill Gates needs advisers and trusted friends to help him in the places he’s less experienced or knowledgeable. You do, too.

So how do you go about the process of deciding what you need and how to find it to fill in the holes of your personal expertise?

  1. Where do you struggle? You have to know where you’ve consistently struggled in your career – areas and tasks you dread doing. Make a list of these and become familiar with them. For me, I know that accounting and general financial concepts are not my strong suit. Being aware is the first step.
  2. Break those struggles into skill sets. If, like me, you struggle with finance, that’s not clear enough. Instead, break that struggle into clear skill sets. For instance, one of my struggled skill sets is understanding balance sheets and keeping numbers straight.
  3. Look for friends/colleagues with the skill sets you’re missing. Surround yourself, then, with people in your career and your life who have the skill sets you don’t. Someone once told me to “hire your weaknesses” and it’s true for everyone. Look for those people who can fill in the blanks in your skills and trust them to help you.
  4. Don’t substitute employees or advisers for learning it yourself. Even if you’re certain you don’t know something, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to try to learn it. Yes, you should surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing, but a big part of their job should be ensuring you know what they’re doing and can learn about it bit by bit.

I’ve learned the past few months how my proficiency in finance is minimal. So I’ve found myself an amazing CPA, business banker, a friend who works as a CFO, and others to help me figure out the skills I don’t have and to learn the skills I need to make CGN more successful.

What are your weaknesses? And are you ready to “hire” for them in your life?

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."