They say “ignorance is bliss” and they are right. You can’t be troubled by what you don’t know. But what happens when you become aware of this ignorance? You still don’t know much but now you are conscious of it. A gap between you and this thing you don’t know anything about appears to you. You can’t ignore it.

When ignorance becomes opportunity

You create an amazing opportunity when you have the perception of lacking something. You find a new focus, a new purpose. Not only you are more confident saying “I don’t know”, you also ask more specific questions on the topic. You research it when you have time, you even make time for it, you might read more, find courses or watch talks from experts. What am I talking about?

  • A new language you want to learn,
  • A new tool because you want to upgrade your technical skills,
  • A new skill to develop because you’re not good at public speaking,
  • A random subject you’ve always been curious about, like Virtual Reality, Data Science, or Abstract Painting,
  • A failure you will know how to avoid next time,
  • A success you will know how to do better next time.

When opportunity becomes growth

When you accept that you don’t know everything, you open yourself to new areas of life and other people. Your way is not the only way anymore. You become the learner, the student. You ask more questions. You build more rapport with others when you admit your own limits. Your influence grows as you learn and involve others in that process.

Think about the journey metaphor. Growth comes when you move forward, one foot in front of the other. You can measure growth with one simple question: “am I the same person I was years ago?”. It’s very unlikely. Between the you now and the you before, there are new experiences, successes, and failures, and all the learnings resulting from them, which could show on different levels:

  • You are more mature and professional,
  • You are more calm and serene,
  • You put things into perspective,
  • Your goals are clearer,
  • You are doing things you never thought you would do in the past,
  • Any other behavioural change resulting from what you learned.

When growth becomes fulfillment

fulfillment (British fulfilment), noun, /fo͝olˈfilmənt/ /fʊlˈfɪlmənt/

1 The achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted.
1.1 Satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s abilities or character.

Doesn’t /fʊlˈfɪlmənt/ seem more complete, more specific than “happiness” as a fundamental goal? In comparison, the Oxford dictionary defines “happiness” as the state of being happy (very helpful, thanks) and “happy” as feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. It almost looks trivial, superficial, no?

So next time you want to answer the question “what is important for you in life?” with “being happy” – don’t. Instead, answer with what would bring that state of being happy. Is it the achievement of something desired? Is it the result of fully developing your abilities? Then what is that “something desired”? What does “fully developing” mean, how do you do it, and what “abilities” are you talking about? More questions, for a change.

You start by becoming aware of something you lack, you learn about it, you open up to new opportunities, you grow as an individual and you become fulfilled as a result. So the more you learn, the more opportunities you get, the more you grow and the more fulfilled you become.