How to discover your unknown knowns

  • Unknown knowns are the things you don’t know you know - matters of instinct, intuition or other factors you consider too trivial to notice.
  • Ignoring unknown knowns can lead to dissonance: imposter syndrome, comprehension gaps when you use jargon or fail to provide context, and underestimating your growth curve because you ignore soft skills or trickier, smaller ‘hard skills’.
  • To explore your unknown knowns, expand the implicit into explicit awareness.
  • Write more about the decisions you make till you can see your seemingly simple ideas contain something more profound.
  • Pursue public speaking and share what you have learned. Don’t assume what you say is too brief or basic, it needn’t even be a big event - it could be just your team and a few minutes on a ‘trivial’ topic.
  • Mentor others, show them how you analyze situations or think around an obstacle, and you will find proof that you don’t give yourself enough credit.
  • Track what you learn every week or month in writing, even if it initially appears trivial. In fact, pay attention to smaller accomplishments (a new shortcut, or a strategy to write better emails).

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