I was 14 years old and suffering from a severe case of know-it-all-itis, when my high school principal, Mr. Bruckner, stopped me in the hallway and said: “Are you studying for the SATs?”
“Do you know what the word ‘esoteric’ means?”
“What does it mean?”
“You don’t know what it means?”
“Oh, I know what it means. I’m asking you.”
That’s when I said heard myself say something I rarely ever said: “I don’t know.”
He smiled his sneaky Mr. Bruckner smile. And I learned something that day. I learned the word esoteric but, more importantly, I learned that I could stop feeling intimidated when I said: “I don’t know.”
And I could start learning and growing when I said: “I wonder…”
“I don’t know” is admitting that there’s room for growth – an opening – within you. And “I wonder” is holding the door open for surprises to enter and fill that space with new and fascinating things.
Research on the power of “I wonder” supports my high school hallway hypothesis. It turns out that we experience things more intensely, learn more, and feel more interested when we simply repeat the words “I wonder” in our minds as we watch and listen.
So here’s my mission to you this week: find at least three opportunities to say “I don’t know. I wonder.” Where will this experiment take you? What new people will you meet? What will you learn? And in what unexpected ways will you be ever so slightly changed by this experience? I don’t know. I wonder…