Self Awareness – Unknown Unknowns

“Ich Dien (I serve)” – Deo Volente

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfeld.

David Dunning and Justin Kruger in the year 1999 did a study in which they brought college students into their labs and gave them a logical reasoning pop quiz. Once they completed the quiz, they were asked to estimate how many questions they answered right and also to compare their reasoning skills against their peers who participated in the experiment.

Based on their perfomance Dunning and Kruger divided students into four groups. Those students who performed in the top 25% on the test were placed in the top quartile and the bottom 25% who performed the least were placed in the bottom quartile. They they compared how these groups had actually perfomed with how they thought they had performed.

The novel finding of this experiment was the big difference between the actual performance and the perceived performance of the bottom quartile. Poor performers had a little awareness that they did so poorly on the test. They performed around 12th percentile but thought their performance around 60th percentile. They totally lacked awareness of the unknown unknowns, that they don’t know that they don’t know.

Greek Dictum “Γ Ν Ω Θ Ι Σ Α Υ Τ ΟΝ” (KNOW THYSELF) was carved into the stone at the entrance of the temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece. It reflects what we believe in connection with reality – Self Awareness. According to Daniel Goleman the first element of Emotional Intelligence is self awareness : knowing one’s strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and impact on others. It’s not like wearing a rose colored glasses and seeing what we want to see rather what we need to see.

The man on top of the mountain din’t fall there. They worked hard and were self aware first. Only by knowing their weaknesses and working on it they became what they are. As Socrates said, “I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know.” (Five Dialogues, pg26).

Avail yourself of this small bounty of Self – Awarenes. To your growth and success. Cheers…..

Published by Harsh Pandey

A shapeless Pigmy searching for his own awakening. Otherwise, I am a master mariner, commanding merchant ships on international voyages.

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