We live in a world that requires people to know a lot of information. Depending on role we are required to know to varying depths. Shallow and wide or deep and narrow. No matter the combination the teams we are placed in have overlap in skills, knowledge and each person brings something of value.
The simple reality is that no one knows everything. If you have an eidetic memory then kudos to you but the mere mortals amongst us do not.
You’re allowed to say I do not know. I don’t have sufficient information to answer this. You’re allowed to say I don’t understand. There is nothing wrong it admitting this because quite simply you’re being honest. You’re not pretending to be something you’re not. You’re not lying to anyone. You’re being truthful – to whom you’re working with and to yourself. It is how you handle this going forth that makes it.
I’ve been working lately on a heap of Python for a conversion tool. This tool I understand what it does, how it operates, and the before and after state. The fact is my python blows chunks and my colleague has troubleshoot and fixed some issues with it. But I didn’t rest on my laurels. I asked questions. I looked at the committed codes and the differences. I tried to understand what is going on, added notes and comments to my knowledge base. Reading. Questioning. Learning. Thinking. Considering.
I’ve been struggling a fraction with the notion of ‘being a fake’ in my new role. I am working in a small team of ~20 people globally. We all have different skill sets. We all have different strengths. Some of the team have been around doing cutting edges things from the time when I was still in a nappy, in school, or before I joined IT. It was overwhelming at first and made me feel small.
To overcome such feelings of “what the F am I doing here?” or “What value am I adding?” I have decided to tackle this head on. Ask questions, learn, think through problems including what a proposed solution or comment would then introduce? Thinking problems through to their conclusion, taking in information, and asking questions has yielding massive gains already. Whilst this may seem obvious for some it make seem new to others.
So question things around you. Ask on twitter, forums, reddit, or from your peers. Read papers, blogs, and chase that rabbit hole to its end. Document your thoughts, questions, and answers. It will make you a better person, allow you to obtain knowledge, and more importantly, keep you fresh. It means next time you’re asked a question the response might be, Yes! It might just be something that you previously did not know!