How Do You Know What You Don’t Know?
Jeffery Schau, Consultant, The Governance Coach™

One day I was using a hand saw to cut a piece of wood. I knew enough to keep my hands in a safe position and brace the piece of wood. I also knew there are tough spots in wood, called knots, that can catch the blade, causing it to stick. Armed with this knowledge I thought I could safely proceed. Unfortunately, there was something I didn’t know - just how much a saw blade can bend. As I was sawing away, I hit a good stride with nice long strokes. Then it happened. As I went to push the blade forwards after a long back stroke, the blade got stuck and all that forward force had to go somewhere. Sure enough, the blade bent in an arc just wide enough to reach where my knee was positioned. And now, I have a scar where that saw blade took a chunk out of me.

My past is full of stories that demonstrate how what we don’t know can hurt us. Anyone who has done a reasonable amount of woodworking knows that tools can be dangerous, especially saws not meant to cut through our frail bodies. But knowing this is not enough to keep us safe. So how do you avoid ‘blind spots,’ or how do you know what you don’t know?