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What You Don't Know: Intellectual Humility

Updated on November 21, 2014

with Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! | Source

Flash Ahead to 2014...

At the age of 53, marcoujor still gets highly annoyed when the phone rings from 7PM to 7:30PM (M-F). For cryin' out loud, don't y'all know, mar is glued to Jeopardy!, which is just about the only programming (well, OK, besides Downton Abbey) that she watches these days.

I feel exceedingly wise because I know very little of the actual content..reminded of my ignorance every day! I especially enjoy the Teen Tournament but am not sure why all the young men look like Phillip...?!

I guess wisdom increases as intelligence dwindles...!

Growing up ...

When I was a student, I was a high achiever. Good grades seemed to come easily for me, and I enjoyed school. I was rather shy, with some close friends, who were also academically inclined.

I was naturally a perfectionist and wanted to 'learn it all'. To me, getting 'The Highest General Average' was the ultimate achievement, at least in my mind. My parents could see me walk up the Church aisle at June graduation to receive a little ribbon. I would feel like I had made them proud.

When all was said and done, Phillip was really very nice..! Yet, every other year, he earned that coveted award and I was granted... 'The Highest English Award', which always felt like the Silver medal in the Olympics...! I guess my parents were proud, but I always felt I let my Dad down a little bit.

I gravitated towards an interest in health care in High School, taking more science and math classes. These stringent academic habits were exceedingly hard to break. Although to this day, I have a permanent mental block, I challenged myself and excelled in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Analytical Geometry, Advanced Algebra, Latin, and of course, Psychology...well, I guess I remember some of that!

I am so grateful that I was serious in High School, because I learned great study habits that took me far into my college years. Developmentally, as I became more independent, I appreciated that it was impossible for me to be a generalist,'know it all', even while studying in an excellent generalist BSN Nursing program.

I entered my passionate specialty of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing at the age of 21 years .

Soon after, in 1985, I received a Master's Degree concentrating in the Specialty of Mental Health.

Joe Jackson: Sunday Papers

The Logic Puzzle

Logic Puzzles
Logic Puzzles | Source

Figuring the Solution

My sister is only other person I know on this Earth who appreciates Logic Puzzles as I do. Everyone else looks at me as if I have two heads.

I even enjoyed the subject of Statistics in school. I daresay that logic calms me down when I am stressed out.

I love to clear my mind and challenge myself to re-focus and make lists, prioritize, eliminate, and strategize with whatever iinformation I am given to work with.

If I am in a state of chaos or flutter, my decisions will be faulty and I have to start over. I have also learned to recognize those (few) puzzles that are simply over my head!

Wising Up....

I consider myself quite blessed that from 1983 until 1999 I spent some time in every phase of Nursing in my field of speciality, including: staff nurse, charge nurse, clinical nurse specialist, nursing instructor, nurse manager, and nursing executive.

The knowledge, skills and confidence that I gained with every positive and negative event has served me when I least expected it...truly a toolbox of professional life experience.

Reflecting more on DeGroot's words, as I developed more life wisdom, I recognized how ignorant I am of actually 'most' subjects.

I embrace my ignorance! I know that I have much more to learn in life. I love the process of learning new things from people and sources I trust and respect. I try to learn something each and every day.

I recognize that I learn from both positive and negative encounters. I understand I have a great deal to do with whether or not an encounter is a positive one by the tone I set and the mood I emulate.

I realize there are some people and situations that are negative, even toxic, despite my best efforts. I strive to remind myself that I do not know all the extenuating circumstances, with the wisdom to know the difference....

The Beatles: A Day in the Life

Pass the Eraser

Variety Puzzles
Variety Puzzles | Source

Being Flexible ....

A kind secretary told me on the first day of a challenging job: "Every day is like a snowflake. It will never be the same around here."

And now, I believe the same is true of life...

I realize that life does not always have to be a logic puzzle.

Sometimes a gal is just in the mood for an easy peezy word seek.

When no one understands you, it's fine to solve a cryptogram or two.

The heck with teamwork...sometimes we need to do a framework.

Instead of a disagreement, it might be better to do a crossword.

Reaching Out....

Since 1999, my life has changed in most every way. Change, in itself, is unfamiliar territory. I found that life will occur whether we participate or not.

In 2013, one of the ways that I fully participate in my life, once again, is in my role as a Nursing Professor.

To quell the myth that teachers have all the answers, I firmly believe that I work with some of the brightest nurses in the profession. I am blessed to learn something from each and every class encounter.

I have discovered that even the most intelligent student can be ignorant, or unaware, of their capabilities. These nurses are awesome at the bedside, yet can be reduced to tears at the mere thought of an oral presentation. These nurses perform miracles with their hands giving a much appreciated backrub, yet they are convinced they cannot write a final paper in APA format.

Whether I teach my class in the beginning, the middle or towards the end of this two - year accelerated program, I stress what a "change" school is for them. Ignorance is also the recognition that the student can no longer be the go - to person for everyone in the family!

So, I am quite proud that my students tend to typically be a bit wiser with their self - awareness and self - care practices after some encouragement.

Elimination (ignorance) of negativity, whether temporary or permanent, is a universal and recurring theme I tend to hear in discussions, including personal (ending toxic friendships) and professional (job change).

Peggy Lee: I Don't Know Enough About You

Playing the Game

Scrabble | Source

Lightening Up...

Scrabble is a longtime family tradition. It is viewed as a way of separating the men from the boys!

At the risk of sounding sexist, in our family, it is more like separating the women from the men...?! Sorry, the women just seem to win a bit more...!

Scrabble is a game that can be humbling, very much like life to me.

Sometimes, no matter how knowledgeable one is, the Scrabble tiles selected can sway the results unfavorably for that game.

Sometimes the time spent together is even more important than the results. For a myriad of reasons, a wise person is ignorant of many issues where the rules of Scrabble are concerned.

Sam Cooke: Wonderful World

In Summary

as marcoujor likes to say:

"While life may seem like a board game, it is by no means boring...!"

© Maria Jordan (revised November, 2014)


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