This may come as a shock to you, but I don’t know everything. I used to say to my wife, “Well, if I had all the answers … well, then I’d have all the answers.” Profound, I know. Feel free to tweet that (seriously, I feel like half the tweets I see are people quoting really smart people).
I had an earlier blog site that I actually titled “But What Do I Know”. Renaming it using my name pretty much says the same thing.
There was a time when I thought I knew more than I really did. It’s called being younger. I’m sure ten years from now, I’ll realize how dumb I am now. I’ll re-read this blog and think, “Wow, you said a lot of dumb stuff. You thought you knew a lot, but you really didn’t.” Then I’ll take off in my flying car …
I was thinking about this concept as I’m readying myself to go to a radio conference in Orlando tomorrow. I know – California last week and now Florida this week. Future me would say it would have been a whole lot better had I gone to these places in say, February. Anyway, I can remember early on in my radio career when I really thought I knew everything. I was convinced that I could walk out college and into a morning drive show in Chicago, because I was so smart and talented.
I did become program director of a small Christian radio network in Virginia at the age of 26. Probably more of a reflection of how small of salary I commanded, than my abilities. But for me, I was on my way. When I was first hired there, I was the youngest person on staff, yet I was the PD. Yep, I thought I was pretty smart.
Going to these Christian radio conventions, I always thought of the crowds in terms of the “haves and the have-nots”. Those who “got it” and those that didn’t. After all, there is a lot of bad (but well-meaning) Christian radio out there. Even smarter, future me would agree with that. I definitely thought of myself as one of the people who “got it”. And to some extent, I’m sure I did “get it” in my young, inexperienced ways. But I hadn’t arrived like I thought I did. Far from it.
I’m pretty sure I said and did lots of dumb stuff.
Then at one point my radio career, I was no longer an on-air personality or program director. I worked in promotions and later management. It was during this time that I was able to reflect on those early years of radio and realize – I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew. It was perspective. I was older. I was like future me, but future me for the younger me back then. Not to be confused with present me and the future, future me. I’m proving my point about my lack of knowledge …
But that realization of not knowing as much as I think I know (or thought I knew) was both humbling and liberating at the same time. There’s something fabulous about not knowing all the answers. It’s even more fabulous not feeling like you have to pretend to know all the answers.
So when I moved back into programming and being on-air at K-LOVE and Air 1 (my friend and current PD of Air 1, Paul Goldsmith, pointed out to me how I generally neglect to mention my work at Air 1 in my blogs. I explained it was out of simplicity that I just refer to K-LOVE since that’s where I just worked. So Air 1, Air 1, Air 1. By the way, Paul truly is smarter than everyone in the room and is 10 years younger than me). Where was I? Anyway, I changed my approach and wanted to move into those roles as being more “teachable”. I was surrounded by all sort of smart and talented people. Instead of pretending to know it all, why not be a sponge?
Imagine not having the pressure to be the smartest guy in the room? Imagine hiring people who have skills and strengths that you don’t have and not being threatened by that? Imagine being okay with not knowing everything and letting others know that? That’s pretty freeing. At least that seems smart to me, but what do I know.