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Rants and Wisdom




In Rants and Wisdom

By lthomas

You don’t know what you don’t know (Part 3)

On 18, Nov 2015 | 6 Comments | In Rants and Wisdom | By lthomas

Or, more on being ‘seasoned.’

So… I have been doing several things for quite a while. I have been a wife, mom, architect and a business owner. I started with a sole proprietorship and built it into a growing corporation.  Over time I’ve added to this basic list. Now I can say I’m an Italian language student, piano student, a novice triathlete, passable tennis player and watercolorist. Even this website and these essays are something of which I knew very little until recently, but now I’m a WordPress, social networking, content marketing convert. Wow. I NEVER feel like I have done much (or know what I am doing!), but when I write it all down, it kinda sounds like a lot. I think most of us don’t give ourselves enough credit for our experience until we see it put together like this.  But even as “seasoned” as I now am, guess what? I still don’t know what I don’t know.

Life-long learning is like that. You just don’t know what you don’t know. So how does anyone figure things out? How does one start a family, a business, hire or fire employees or complete a first triathlon? There really is no instruction manual for life. Imagine or remember coming home from the hospital with your first baby!

When I don’t know enough to even know where to start, I follow my gut. I always tell people to fine tune their intuition and common sense. William Duggan, author of Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement, tells us,

“Intuition is real… Expert intuition comes when you are good at something, it kicks in because you’ve been here before.” I particularly listen to my, “Strategic Intuition, the flash of insight you get when your mind is relaxed.”

I’m a big fan of quotes for inspiration and help. I even keep several of them posted in my office. One of my favorites is by Franklin P. Jones: “Experience enables us to recognize a mistake when we make it again.” Wow, I use that one a lot!  I thought I’d further raid my quote stash and share several that have helped me with this dilemma of wanting to get it right but not knowing what I don’t know. Tapping the wisdom of others is the first step in expanding our own knowledge (you can quote me on that):


  • “If you leap, if you try, and it doesn’t workout, it is not on you.”  Anonymous
  • “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett
  • “How do you eat a REALLY big cookie?  One bite at a time.”  Dell Mitchell
  • “We study Italian because we want to, not because we need to…to throw some of our precious time to the wind and do something simple for the pleasure of being able to pronounce words like piacere.”  Sarah Mastroianni
  • “Many people see artists as shamans, dreamers, outsiders, and rebels. In reality, the artist is a builder, an engineer, a research analyst, a human relations expert, a project manager, a communications specialist, and a salesman. The artist is all of those and more–combined with the imagination of an inventor and the courage of an explorer. Not a bad set of talents for any business challenged to innovate in a world of volatility, uncertainty, and change.”  Steven Tepper



Here are a few of my own personal thoughts on “What I didn’t know”:


  • When you are stuck, start, just start. Something. Anything.
  • You make your own opportunities and fix your own problems.
  • Always Follow up Beyond Belief.
  • We are all going to succeed at some things and fail at others.  That’s how we learn.  Walk, fall, run, fall down and walk again.


We may be judged, and in my case more harshly by myself than anyone else. But it is ok not to know how to do something, that’s part of life. Trust me, every time I try something new, I feel like the class idiot. When in doubt, make a decision, stick to it and Begin!

Remember, you just don’t know what you don’t know.







  1. Anne Gummerson

    So true Laura, When you are stuck, just DO something. And if it doesn’t work, do something else. I like that you say seasoned. I am tempted to say “old” when it comes to myself. Seasoned is better. And I have always loved the word

    • Laura Thomas

      Thanks Anne!

  2. Amy Scheckla-Cox

    I think you might want to add to your list… “Life Coach”
    Thanks for the article. There is so much to learn and thank goodness we have so many opportunities. All we have to do is step forward. If we don’t like the path we are traveling, we just simply recalibrate and change our course. I appreciate you sharing your personal experiences and thoughts about knowing you don’t know about what you don’t know, ya know? Many good thoughts… ~Amy

  3. Scott Crafton, LAR '77


    I have been a lifelong investigator of the creative spirit as well, and appreciate your ponderings on the topic. I was particularly struck by your observations about the stealth construction of a body of work and life experience — we look back and add up, and we go “Wow! – not bad.” Moreover, some folks experience recognition from others for the work and, if they are like me, are surprised and question whether what we have done is really so noteworthy. However, my advice is that we need to recognize that we, ourselves, are not the most objective observers of ourselves and, especially if the recognition is from our peers and/or loved ones, we simply and graciously say, “Thank you,” and then keep moving on to the next thing. — Scott

  4. EB

    This is my favorite: “When you are stuck, start, just start. Something. Anything.”
    It’s so true, sometimes the hardest thing to do is stare at a blank piece of paper…the possibilities are endless.

  5. bill laffoon, barch 74

    1. you know what you know
    2. you know what you don’t know
    3. you don’t know what you don’t know
    4. you don’t know what you know*
    *think about it

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