Not Knowing is Not an Excuse

How many times have you used the excuse “I didn’t know how to…” or “I didn’t know that…” for a mistake you have made? In a profession with so many knowns and even more unknowns, I’m sure we’ve all used that excuse from time to time. As a professional, one of the biggest mistakes we can make is thinking that we understand something that turns out to be much more complex than we initially thought. Knowing what we don’t know can be just as important as knowing what we do know. The problem is you can’t always know what you don’t know.

In a profession where things are continually changing it’s hard to recognize what we know we don’t know, let alone knowing all the unknowns. As young professionals, we often find ourselves challenged by what we don’t know. However, not knowing how to do something or feeling uncertain about your level of skill should not be an excuse for not doing a task or doing a task well. Fearing the unknown will only create more challenges, but facing the unknown can open so many new doors. Sticking only to what you’re good at will most likely lead to missed opportunities and a pigeon-holed career.     

It’s unfair to think that we could possibly know everything that is involved in our profession or be masters at it all.  Because our profession is so broad in topic, I think it’s important that we continue to share our knowledge and work in a collaborate environments that allows us to share what we have mastered. This is why mentoring the younger generation is so important. Whether you’re a master at building Revit families, can lay out a floor plan in your sleep, or detail a masonry wall in less than 60 seconds it’s important to own your craft and share your knowledge with those who are less talented in those areas. It’s through this sharing of knowledge that we all become better at what we do.

It’s easy to become frustrated, overwhelmed and defeated when faced with these challenges, but it is possible to overcome these obstacles if you have the right resources. Ask questions and seek help when needed – it’s better to learn something the right way from someone who knows what they are doing rather than teach yourself the wrong way and have to relearn it the next time you make the same mistake.   Socrates once said, The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” If we are not willing to learn the unknowns then we are unwilling to become a master of our craft.  I encourage everyone to seek out their own personal unknowns and then find someone around you who can help you master them. Don’t let the fear of not knowing something keep you from becoming a better architect, designer, Revit user, writer, or artist.  Embracing the challenges that lay before you will ultimately set you up for greater success in your future.

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