Elizabeth was perplexed. The other business leaders had answered the question simply, and easily, but she was wrestling with her response. She began to ramble, diving into rabbit holes and history lessons – she wanted to keep talking until an answer showed up. But nothing did.
The conference room was filled with executives, patiently awaiting her response. A long pause sucked the air out of the room. Elizabeth took a deep breath, and looked up at me.
“I don’t know,” she said.
Her honesty was compelling. Reflecting on those three simple words, I realized how the unknown is actually your competitive advantage. Here’s what we discovered:
Seems to me that “I don’t know” is just a step in the journey – and where real discoveries begin. It’s only natural to want to have all the answers – but understanding that that’s not the way things work can be the first step in creating the change – and the performance – that you deserve.
Chris Westfall is one of the top-rated speakers in Vistage, and the recipient of the 2015 Vistage Member’s Choice Award. The publisher of seven books, his latest is called Leadership Language (Wiley, coming in September 2018). A coach to clients on Shark Tank, Dragons Den and Shark Tank Australia, he specializes in helping Vistage members to change the conversation and change their results. He is an award-winning instructor at a top 20 MBA program, and he has been recognized as the US National Elevator Pitch Champion. More info is available here: