The Power of Admitting that I Don’t Have All the Answers

The best advice I received as a young, budding attorney was to never pretend to know the answer. While this advice may seem obvious—and it is—throughout my career, I have witnessed many people, often women (including myself), not following this advice out of embarrassment and fear of looking stupid.

As women in the workplace, particularly in industries dominated by men, there is the ever-present feeling of having to prove ourselves on a daily basis. Constantly having to prove you have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else often leads women to feel as though each and every move is a test, and that any misstep somehow carries more weight than the missteps of our male counterparts. This leads us to be on high alert and feel as though we can never admit that we may not always have all the answers. As a result, we miss out on countless opportunities—to learn, to be vulnerable, and, perhaps most important, to show other women that it is perfectly acceptable to say, “I do not know, but I will find out.”

There is so much strength and power in being authentic and not pretending. We are fortunate to be living in a time when every answer is at our fingertips—all we have to do is have the courage and humility to admit where we lack the knowledge and then go out and seek the information. By doing this, we not only learn more, but we inspire others around us to do the same, and to keep getting better and better, each and every day.

Since I have started heeding this advice, I have found that people not only respect me for admitting what I do not know, but they find me reliable and trust that when I do have the answer, it is the right one. I no longer live in fear of not being perfect and knowing it all because now, the only person I am competing against is me, and I know she will never let me down.