You Don't Know What You Don't Know

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Have you ever found yourself confidently reviewing your niche when all of a sudden you stumble upon the realization that there is more to this than you thought? If you are using "Hubs" correctly, I bet you have rolled through all of the "suggestions" it laid out for you. Do you remember saying "I never thought of that"? I love it when that happens. It is something new to write about.

But here's the thing—this isn't about feeling blindsided. You just walked into an unknown! Something that you did not know that you did not know.

How do you handle things when you realize that your understanding isn't as comprehensive as you once thought? Do you step back and say "Whoa, I think that I am in over my head"?

NO! Let's Dive In

You go headlong into new sources, engage in new discussions, and embrace the process of continuous learning. We write about it all of the time. You have found a Shiny New Thing and fell victim to its charm. Those really are unknown unknowns that we find every day in our new life as a blogger.

You have seen me write about it on several occasions. If you are not learning something new every day, are you living? Because in the end, it's not about being perfect from the outset; it's about the willingness to grow and evolve, one insight at a time. You are in a constant state of discovery.

Your goal is to provide value to your audience. When you have that "aha" moment, write about it. If you just stumbled across this out of the blue, has anyone in your audience made the connection? Even Professor Einstein had these moments.

I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.
—Albert Einstein

As a blogger, you just took another step toward mastery. Every unknown that you encounter, is worth celebrating. How do you celebrate? With another post of course! Embrace the journey of learning, even when it means admitting that there's more to learn than you had anticipated.

I Am The Greatest?

Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? This suggests that people with low knowledge or competence tend to be overconfident, while those with high knowledge or competence tend to be more humble and underestimate themselves.

Let me explain, it's when someone believes they're more knowledgeable or skilled in a particular area than they actually are. Being brutal here, they lack awareness of their own incompetence.

Isn't It Odd

Imagine you have a friend who's recently taken up chess. After playing a few rounds, they might start feeling pretty confident, not fully grasping the depth of skill and strategy involved with the game. They overestimate their ability because they don't know what they don't know.

Conversely, a seasoned chess player who has honed their skills to perfection will underestimate their own abilities. They are aware of how complex chess can be and how much more there is to learn. They have had several interactions with unknowns and have gained respect for what they don't know. They underestimate their ability compared to "others".

The Novice believes that he is great because he does not know about the game. Ignorance is bliss. The Master believes that he is inadequate because they know that they don't know everything.

Their perceptions are their reality. Where are you on this scale when it comes to blogging and affiliate marketing?

Terrifyingly Fascinating

Now that you've got a better picture of what unknown unknowns are, it's clear why they can be both fascinating and slightly terrifying. The risks they pose have tangible impacts on our decisions every day. Let's face it, no one wants to look like a fool for not knowing something that they should.

I'm going to show you how these unknowns play out in real-life decisions, and why acknowledging and preparing for them can mean the difference between success and failure.

The Risks of Ignorance in Decision-Making

It's a fundamental fact that being unaware of your blind spots can steer you towards an accident. The lack of key information can lead to incorrect decisions and potentially disastrous outcomes.

For example, bloggers launch blogs into saturated niches all of the time. They chose from a list and went for the gold, not knowing that another blog was firmly established in the same space. You will be working twice as hard to overcome the error or dump the idea and change directions.

Think of the investors who misjudged economic signals because they weren't aware of the power of the public - these case studies are plentiful and often painful reminders of what can go wrong when we just don't know what we don't know.

Just think GameStop

You Looked Both Ways, Did You Look Up?

Now, to avoid falling into these traps, adopting certain strategies can be a lifesaver. This might look like consulting diverse sources of information, seeking out expert opinions, and, most importantly, remaining open-minded to the possibility that there are things you haven't considered yet.

Talking politics is never a good thing, but if you were a "conservative thinker", do you know what the "liberal minds" are up to? Do you listen to diverse opinions? You do not have to agree with the diverse opinions, but at least consider they exist.

You Did What?

Neglecting the unknown unknowns can have consequences far more serious than a mere business blunder or personal misjudgment. In extreme scenarios, failing to anticipate unforeseen events can result in financial devastation, reputational damage, or even pose threats to public safety. It's that critical.

An illustrative example of this is the financial crisis of 2008, where the failure to foresee the full extent of risks in the housing market and financial system led to a global economic downturn, massive job losses, and significant financial turmoil.

Embracing Humility and Lifelong Learning

When exploring new avenues to pursue, staying humble is important. No one knows everything, and that's fine. Keeping an open mind is essential for personal growth. It's how you uncover fascinating discoveries you never knew existed.

Blogging also exposes you to a vast array of perspectives, ideas, and experiences from people all around the world. By remaining open-minded, you allow yourself to learn from these diverse viewpoints, challenge your assumptions, and potentially uncover topics or niches you never knew existed.

Create the Aha Moment for Someone Else

A curious mind and the eagerness to learn more are your most valuable assets. It's about swapping "I already know this" for "What else can I learn here?" Your curiosity is what leads you to Stand Out from The Crowd. As you tell your tale, people will resonate with what you said, or have their own "I Did Not Know That" moment.

When I say embrace humility and lifelong learning, I'm talking about actively seeking out areas where our knowledge is limited. It might be seeking feedback, attending workshops, or diving into books on unfamiliar subjects. All these actions arm you with the might to face unknown unknowns head-on.

Navigating the Unknowns and Exploring New Grounds

You've probably realized by now that the unknown is not your enemy any more than the Shiny New Thing is. But what else can you do? Well, there are some tools and techniques that can help you identify and manage these elusive unknowns.


Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Embrace frameworks that are designed to probe the perimeters of your knowledge. Whether it's a SWOT analysis in business or a reflective practice in personal development, always question what you think you know and what you may not.

Playing Devil's Advocate

This involves questioning assumptions, arguments, and evidence to make better decisions. By considering different perspectives and options you will have a well-rounded outlook. Walk a mile in my shoes, is another way to take on a new perspective. Through diverse approaches, you will achieve different viewpoints,

Don't Forget Chatty

We have analytical tools at our disposal that can predict trends and identify patterns that aren't immediately obvious. From big data to AI, these resources can shine a light on dark corners, revealing what we might otherwise miss.

Clear As Mud

While we can never fully eliminate unknown unknowns, we can build stronger nets to capture more of them. Choose tactics that align with your goals and integrate them into your routines. Adjust your approach as you go, and don't worry too much about perfection. It's the pursuit of uncovering these unknowns that counts.

Exploring the vast unknown is like a group adventure we're all in together. Share your stories, learn from the bumps along the way, and cheer for even the tiniest wins.

Sure, you might not know what you don't know, but with the right vibe and tools, you'll definitely know more than you did yesterday. And hey, that's progress we can all get excited about!

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Recent Comments


Wow! This is a lot about what I don’t know. I know Dunning-Kruger is also known as the “peak of mount stupid.” Always fun to listen to people who Google’d something and then talk like they are the expert. All of you here who write those blog articles that appear on Google probably know more.

Stanley, my daughter was a pshych major. While I did help her with a lot of her homework and research, I have to admit that I never heard it called Mt Stupid, but the shoe definitely fits.

My goal was to point out that what a lot of us call Shiny New Thing Syndrome is just another way to say we don't know what we don't know.

Learning and exploration should be a beneficial part of the never ending journey and not something to be feared if we just do not know something.

Thank you for teaching me one more new thing today.

I did get the point on shiny new thing syndrome. This is also the good old, “the grass is greener on the other side.” I must admit I fall prey to that too. It is too easy to think that way when what we are doing is not working out. We will try something else even though we do not know much about it. We also “hope” trying something else will work out. The important thing is to know what we want and what are our expectations. Thomas Edison knows what he is working on, the light bulb. It failed many times but his focus never changed, but tweaking and work on solutions to make the light bulb work. Changing to make your plan work and changing your entire plan due to shiny new thing syndrome are completely different things.

Nicely laid out, Don about all of the possible pitfalls!

Well done!


Unknown Unknowns = Shiny New Thing Syndrome. Been lost on that track many of times.

Me too, Don! It happens to us all!


I love learning and the exploration that goes into it. Some people call me weird, but the more I learn, the happier I am. My learning obsession is why I blog; I also like sharing my old and newfound knowledge.

Great post!


Thank you very much. I am doing everything possible to learn and share.

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