You’ve experienced a know-it-all. They are that person who believes they have mastered the subject(s), have been there and done that, and let you know it. At their worst, you view them as arrogant and cocky. At the least, it is clear they aren’t interested in learning anything new.

Do you want to be that person?

Does having a know-it-all mindset help you succeed, both now and in the future?

What if we shifted from trying to prove we know-it-all or striving to achieve that level of knowledge, to a learn-it-all mentality?

The learn-it-all is hungry, curious, and engaged. The know-it-all is satisfied, content, and blissfully unaware. If you want to be the latter, you can stop reading. But if you want to be a learn-it-all or are even intrigued by the way I have framed this question, read on, because I am going to give you five reasons to be one (and some strategies for becoming one too).

Five Reasons to Be a Learn-it-all

The world keeps changing.  Think about how your work has changed and what is needed for you to succeed.  Is it exactly that same as it was five years ago?  One year ago?  Even if you did once know it all, if you aren’t changing, how can you possibly keep up unless you are learning?

Being a better problem solver. Problems can’t be solved by looking at the way things are.  To be a solve problems more effectively, we must look for new information and perspectives. The know-it-all is blinded by the “facts”; the learn-it-all looks for new ones.  If you don’t anticipate having many problems, maybe you don’t need to be a learn-it-all.  I’ll leave that up to you.

It’s the only way to improve. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting better results. When you know-it-all there is no room for, or even reason to improve.  If you want improvement in yourself, your results and your team, you must look at the world as a learner.

It’s not possible to know it all. In 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every 100 years. By the end of 1945, the rate was every 25 years. But we live in 2018 – and the rate, according to IBM will be a doubling of knowledge every 12 hours by 2020 (here is one source). Even if these estimates are way off, there is no argument that three is more to know all the time.  A learn-it-all approach is the only chance you have to thrive (and perhaps to survive).

No one likes a know-it-all. I hinted at this in at the beginning of this article, and it is true. Even if you don’t care about the first four reasons, your social life will be better when remain curious, look to learn about and from others, rather than acting as if you already know everything.  Who would have thought that being a learn-it-all would probably even gain you more friends?

Some questions to help you become a Learn-it-all

Hopefully I have convinced you to set the goal to be a learn-it-all, or at least have the goal of wanting to learn more.  If so, you might be wondering how to do it.  While there are many strategies that will help, let me give you a couple of questions that will serve you well.

What did I learn today? You ask your kids this, but what if you asked yourself that question every day?

What can I learn today? This is a planning to learn question, rather than a reflective one. When you ask yourself this question at the start of your day, you improve the likelihood that learning will come your way.

What do I need to learn? This is an intentional question helping you be intentional about what you study, the questions you ask, and the people you observe.  When you know what you want to learn and why, you set the stage for being a more proficient learner.

I’ve framed this conversation as know-it-all vs. learn-it-all.  Perhaps there is a middle ground.  But where ever you stand leaves you a choice to move in one direction or the other. Which would you rather be?