Bravery or Ignorance

I am not a proponent at all of being purposefully ignorant.  I believe people should be engaged in their communities, aware of current events, and in a constant state of seeking to remove ignorant barriers and assumptions.

However, there have been many times in my life where my ignorance has given me the courage to face situations I may have otherwise hesitated to face, because I had no idea what the potential fallout could be, or how it might be perceived.  I was acting on my instincts and being myself, and it worked out far better than second guessing myself because of knowing "facts."

The biggest incident I can recall around this was back a few years ago when I was a lead over my team at work.  We were going through some organizational changes and my team, which consisted of many very long-term employees who had seen many organizational changes, were unresponsive at best and disagreeable at worst regarding the change.  I had done everything internally I could think of aside from begging them to believe in me and nothing was working.  So, I took my plea to someone in a higher authority.

We had a vice president back then who truly modeled servant leadership and was engaged even with the newest members of the front line.  He often said if we had a struggle that he could assist with to reach out to him without hesitation.  He had a good rapport with the members of my team, and I knew if anyone could give them the locker room pep talk they needed to get the hell on board, it would be him.

I sought him out, naive about the protocol for doing so.  He asked to meet with me and I made my case, and if anything, he seemed impressed by my intentions, not put off by them.  I said, "if you can even give my team fifteen or twenty minutes, just to show that the relationship between the goals and our behavior is important, that would be enough."  He said, "I will do you one better.  I will come for an hour, and I will bring lunch."

And so, in the next meeting that I had with the team and as a total surprise to them, he arrived to discuss the changes and had pizza with him for forty people.  I was ignorant enough to ask for help from the top, and it paid off for me splendidly!  The team loved it!

My husband the other day was giving me a list of his favorite qualities about me, and among them he listed bravery, and I scoffed.  I am not a brave person.  He then went on to describe how I'll catch spiders and cockroaches with my bare hands without hesitation, especially at work (if for no other reason than to stop the ladies from behaving like a bunch of shrieking eels - try that Princess Bride reference on for size), and I said, "Well, it's not like they are scary."  And he said, "They bite!  And they can jump!"  And I said, "Cockroaches can jump!?"  Had I known this, I might have hesitated in hunting them down!  My husband said there is no way he'd grab one with his bare hands.  And I stated it was ignorance, rather than bravery, that has gotten me here.

We shouldn't hide in ignorance.  But in some ways, our ignorance gives us that same childlike innocence that can let us ask stupid questions, befriend unlikely people and take charge of things without hesitation because we don't know any better yet.  While we are looking to always further enlighten ourselves, we should appreciate those moments of ignorance that take us one step further than we might have gone otherwise.

It was through ignorance that I chose to get married, go to grad school, and pursue certain friendships.  And I am grateful for it!


  1. As they say: Ignorance is Bliss

    Not saying that it should apply to everything.


Post a Comment