The Power of Not Knowing

President of the Wiseman Group

January 26, 2016

Full Video
Inspiring Short
I think we need to recognize that we tend to do our best work when we are on the outer edges of what we know, when we are doing something hard and new, and when we are growing through challenge.

When I came to campus this morning, I had a bit of a panic, and it wasn’t at the thought of you, because you all are an awesome sight. It was seeing the signs—those big signs at the entrance to campus. I have to admit that those signs always give me a little panicky feeling because they are a reminder that this is the place where I was abandoned by my parents. This is the place where I was left to figure things out on my own and to wonder, “Am I even smart enough to be here?”

But today these signs gave me this panic because I knew I was coming here to campus—a place that cultivates knowledge and reveres intelligence—to talk about the dangers of knowledge and the downside of intelligence. Essentially I was coming here to ask this question: Can we actually get too smart?

You have probably heard this saying: “Knowledge is power.” But today I want to ask, Is there actually more power in not knowing? I want to make a case for ignorance—not ignorance as in stupidity or the lack of education but simply the lack of certainty.

My dad had a saying. He used to say, “It looks like someone has gotten too big for their britches.” By this he meant that they were a little too full of themselves, a little too much of a smarty-pants. As we gain knowledge and intelligence and as we get smart, can we get a little too full of ourselves? A little too smart for our own good and maybe even a little too smart for the good of others?

I want to center our conversation today on two questions. They are both questions that I have spent years researching and writing about. The first is a question about leadership: How does the knowledge of a leader affect the intelligence of the team around them and why is it that some leaders seem to amplify the intelligence of people around them while other leaders seem to just suck the intelligence and life right out of a room?

That is our first question. The second question is a question about learning and performance. I want to begin with the first question.

Multiplier Leadership

When I graduated from BYU and from the Marriott School, I took a job working for a small maverick software company called Oracle. No one knew this company at the time; people thought it was a toothbrush manufacturer. Oracle had a very simple and clear hiring ­strategy: hire the top grads out of the top schools, mix them all together, and just see what happens.

At the time, Oracle didn’t recruit at BYU, and Oracle did not actively recruit me. I simply found Oracle and wiggled my way into the mix. It wasn’t as if I felt like I didn’t belong there; I just felt really lucky to be working there and to be working around all these brilliant people. So I became a genius watcher.

I could see how intelligence—just raw ­brilliance and smarts—was a really powerful tool for growth and for innovation, but I could also see how intelligence was being used as a weapon. We all know that really smart people tend to get promoted into management, but many of these leaders never look beyond their own genius to see the full genius and capability of people around them. They are smart, but they tend to shut down the smarts of others. They are idea killers and energy zappers inside of an organization.

They are leaders, such as one particular executive I worked with at Oracle who was brilliant but who micromanaged every detail of the operation, despite the fact that he managed a vast scope—several divisions inside the company. He would personally review and edit every piece of documentation for every product that came out of his product divisions. After he reviewed these documents, the authors would get them back, and there would be all sorts of scribble marks with his signature green ink and a lot of capital Ts written all over. When the authors got to the end of a document, there would be this helpful legend to interpret these notations: “T = Terrible.” I was not surprised watching how people held back and played it safe around this executive.

But I also noticed a different type of leader: leaders whose intelligence was infectious inside the organization and leaders who seemed to bring out the intelligence of people around them. When these leaders walked into a room, it was as if you could see lightbulbs going off over people’s heads, and ideas flowed and problems got solved. I came to call these leaders multipliers and those other leaders diminishers.

Now, haven’t you ever wondered why it is that you are just absolutely brilliant around some people but kind of a bumbling fool around others? You know, beyond the dating context?

I became really determined to research and find out why some leaders seem to bring out the very best in people around them. This research showed that these multiplier leaders did a number of things similarly to diminishers but a small number of things very differently. Diminisher leaders issued directives and gave direction based on what they could see and what they knew, whereas multiplier leaders defined opportunities and invited other people to stretch toward them. Diminishers carried with them a belief that no one was going to figure it out without them, whereas multipliers held a belief that, fundamentally, people are smart and that they are going to figure it out.

The research showed that diminisher leaders got less than half of people’s intelligence—the available intelligence around them—whereas multiplier leaders got all of it. It was a two-times difference in the amount of intelligence that was being used by these multiplier leaders, and this difference really came from how a leader used his or her own intelligence.

One of my favorite multiplier leaders is a phenomenal athlete as well as a sports franchise owner and a businessman—Magic Johnson. He described an experience he had when he was a young man that has shaped the way he leads.

Even back in high school he was a phenomenally talented basketball player. Because this was back when he was Earvin Johnson Jr., pre-Magic days, his high school coach said to him, “Earvin, every time you get the ball, I want you to . . .”

You might think he would say, “Pass it,” but he said, “Earvin, every time you get the ball, I want you to take the shot.”

And so he did. And he scored a lot of points, and the coach loved it and the players loved it because they won every game! They would win with fifty-four points, and Earvin would have scored fifty-two of those points. But the boys loved it, because what young boy doesn’t want to be on an undefeated team?

But then, after one particular game, when all the players were leaving the gym and heading out to their cars, Earvin noticed the faces of the parents who had come to watch their sons play basketball but instead ended up watching this superstar.

And he said, “I made a decision at that very young age that I would use my God-given talent to help everyone on the team be a better player.”

It was this orientation he had that earned him the nickname of Magic—for his ability to raise the level of play of every team that he ever played on.1

Accidental Diminishers

But that really wasn’t even the interesting part of the research about leaders. I started out thinking that diminishers were narcissistic, tyrannical bullies, but what I found was that most diminishers actually weren’t jerks. Most of them were really nice people. I saw that most of the diminishing that was happening inside of our schools, our workplaces, and our homes was being caused by really good people who thought they were doing a good job leading.

You might ask yourself, “How might I, with the very best of intentions, actually be having a diminishing impact on those I lead, those I work alongside, or those I live with?”

I call these people accidental diminishers, and they manifest themselves in several ways.

Maybe you are a bit of an “idea guy”—the ­creative thinker who is constantly spouting ideas, thinking that their ideas are going to stimulate other ideas. But, actually, people just end up chasing their ideas and shutting down their own ideas.

Or maybe you are the “always-on leader”—the charismatic leader who is always present, always engaged, and always has something to say and who thinks, of course, that their energy is infectious.

But people say these leaders are suffocating. I mean, what do you do when you see one of these people coming down the hall toward you? Yeah, you hide, because then they expand like a gas and take up all the available space, leaving very little room for others.

Or what about the “rescuer”? These are the leaders who don’t like to see people suffer, struggle, make mistakes, or fail, so they extend a hand of help. But they end up leaving people rather helpless.

Or the “pacesetter,” who is leading by example, assuming that other people will see and follow. But when other people conclude that they can’t catch up and they can’t win, these leaders end up creating more spectators than true followers.

Or the “rapid responder” or the “optimist”—the can-do leader who sees nothing but possibilities but also overlooks problems.

But where is learning really born? It is born in the struggle.

Becoming a great leader requires us to understand how our most noble intentions can end up having a diminishing effect. Sometimes we don’t see it until much later.

I ran into executive Mr. T = Terrible several years ago at an alumni gathering called the Oracle 100. It was an event with the top 100 leaders who had helped build and grow Oracle. We all gathered to mostly talk with each other, asking, “Wasn’t that fun?” and maybe even, “Aren’t we great?”

Midway through the program we took a break, and I saw this former executive and I said to him, “Man, this must be really fun for you to look back and see what it was that you built.”

He responded in a way that I really wasn’t expecting at all. He got heavy and sad, and he said, “No, actually this is really painful for me because I think I was really hard on people. And I realize now that I didn’t need to be.”

Not only can our knowledge and our ­capability blind us to the capability of people around us, but it can also blind us to new possibilities.

Rookie Smarts

I want to turn to the second question: As professionals, how does our knowledge get in our own way?

I want to go back in time again, back to Oracle when I was the age of many of you here. I was just a year out of graduate school and a year or maybe a year and a half into my career when I was asked to manage the training function for the company. That seemed premature to me, but then the new responsibility was really premature when they said, “And Larry also wants a university, so, Liz, we need you to build the team and go build Oracle University.”

It struck me that this was a grown-up job, and I wasn’t yet a grown-up at all. In fact, my only qualification to run a university was that I had recently been at a university. However, no one else seemed at all concerned with my great lack of experience.

Having this big job with very little experience, I was forced to ask a lot of questions and stay close to the executives. My strategy was to keep showing up at their staff meetings and to learn as quickly as I could. What I learned was that once you keep showing up with questions, they expect you to have answers at some point. It is like showing up to a potluck and never bringing anything. At some point people say, “Hey, are you going to actually bring and contribute anything?”

So I was forced to show progress and results. We were doing a pretty good job, but I took a lot of teasing from the executives about being kind of young for a fairly big job. One particular time my boss and I were at a business event, and he introduced me to a client who was a very distinguished-looking man. My boss said, “This is Liz. She runs Oracle University.”

The man noticeably flinched. It was almost like a startled response, and my boss, Bob, thought it was quite fun, so he jumped into the conversation, coming to my aid by saying, “Oh yeah, Liz? She is not particularly qualified for her job.”

And then he broke out in this big smile, and I realized that it was like the first lesson in executive management: you don’t get a lot of air cover. So I had to defend myself, and I said, “Hey, Bob, who wants a job they are qualified for? There would be nothing to learn.”

And it was as if he had said, “Wish granted,” because for the next dozen years I had jobs that I had no idea how to do. It kept up for about a dozen years, but eventually I started to feel qualified. I actually started to feel legit, and I began to think, “Gee, I think I actually know how to do this, and maybe someone would actually hire me to do this and start a university or run a university.”

That is when I started to feel stagnant and stuck. And I decided to leave Oracle—honestly, in search of something I didn’t know how to do, which kept things wide open.

That is what led me to be a management researcher and author. When I left Oracle, I had this really wonderful Hindu friend named Dinesh, and he said to me, “Liz, what is the question that you are holding this year?”

And my first reaction was, “Wow, a year seems like a really long time to hold a question.” But then I realized that I actually did have a question, and my question was this: How does what I know get in the way of what I don’t know but maybe need to learn?

This was a very relevant question for me because I was leaving a comfortable environment in which I was the boss, and I was moving into unfamiliar territory in which I would be an underdog, at best.

But it struck me as also a relevant question for our time because we live and work in a reality in which technology has allowed our business cycles and living cycles to spin so fast that often we don’t even face the same problem twice. And the state of the art doesn’t stand still or stay true for very long.

For example, for those who work in science or technology or who are going to take a job in a field related to or highly infused with STEM, I did some interesting calculations for my research. Based on the rate at which knowledge is increasing and the rate at which knowledge is decaying, I calculated that about 15 percent of what we know today is likely to be relevant in five years.

Okay, and that is not the number fifty—that is the number fifteen, as in between 10 and 20 percent. And here is the kicker: we don’t even know which 15 percent this is.

A few years ago my research team and I went to work and studied about 400 different work scenarios, looking at how people with experience approach a particular task and how people without experience approach the same task. We found some really interesting things. We found that with experience comes, obviously, a lot of virtues and assets, but experience also brings with it a number of blind spots—because what happens once we gain know-how and once we start to recognize patterns and developmental shortcuts?

I have asked Brent W. Webb, our academic vice president, to read something for us:

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S1M1L4RLY, Y0UR M1ND 15 R34D1NG 7H15 4U70M471C4LLY W17H0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17.2

Well done, Brother Webb. Thank you.

So you see, once we become familiar with the subject, we can see what we expect to see, and sometimes the more we know, the less we see around us.

Let me describe what we found when we studied how people without experience approached things. When we are operating without experience, there are some obvious downsides. No one in here really wants a rookie surgeon or a rookie dentist, and if you have been to a first-year violin recital, you know what you are going to get there.

But when we are inexperienced at something, when we are in this rookie space, when we are doing something really hard and really important, and when we are doing it for the very first time, we operate in some really predictable and very interesting ways. They are simple ways, but they are extraordinarily powerful—­particularly for the environment in which we live right now. We found that when we are in this rookie mode—whether we are twenty-five years old or sixty-five years old—we operate unencumbered by knowledge, so we see more possibilities and we explore more. We lack know-how, so we have to go out and get it.

When we are in this rookie space, we ask better questions. We are more alert. We listen more. We value feedback. We seek feedback. When we are operating without a lot of expertise, we actually tend to bring in more expertise because we consult with so many people and we mobilize the expertise of others. Contrary to popular opinion, when we are in this rookie zone, we are not big, bold risk-takers; we are actually extremely cautious. But we are fast. With knowledge work, rookies tend to outperform people in both innovation and speed. We operate when we are on a frontier in scrappy ways. We improvise, we are lean, we are agile, and we stay close to our customers, because when we lack resources, that is when we get really resourceful.

Challenge Brings Satisfaction

We also found an interesting relationship between challenge level and satisfaction. We surveyed more than 1,000 people, asking these two questions: How challenged are you in your work? and How satisfied are you in your work?

We found a really interesting linear correlation. As challenge level went up, so did satisfaction. It is kind of our happy place because we are built for challenge.

So often we are at our best when we know the very least. Why is it that challenges tend to bring out our best? You might conclude that it is because we like them so much. But that is not really what explains this dynamic.

In a retaliatory move against the professor for whom I was a teaching assistant in graduate school, I am going to ask Dean Lee Perry to come join me for a public experiment. I have underbriefed him, so I don’t think he is fully prepared for what we are going to do.

I am going to ask Dean Perry to play the role of challenger. It is a multiplier discipline. Dean Perry, I want you to stretch this rubber band as far as you can.

Wait, first of all I should give you a briefing. This is not a magic rubber band, so this could end badly. Yes, it could be bad for you or for me or for pretty much everyone on the stand.

I want you to stretch it as far as you possibly can without breaking it. And then hold it there. I have a backup in case this one does break. Pull it as far as you can without breaking it.

People out there are thinking, “I wish I didn’t have the floor seats.”

Okay, we are almost there. Okay, we are there!

So now, if Dean Perry doesn’t give in, I am left here in a position I cannot maintain for very long. What are my options? I can let go or I can move closer to him, which is representative of me solving the problem, gaining knowledge, figuring it out, and burning through that challenge.

Then, as my leader, what would Dean Perry do next? What does a good leader get to do next after I have mastered this challenge and burned through this tension?

Yes, another stretch! There he is! Back to the point of tension. Thank you. We are good, Lee. Well done, well done!

Herein lies the secret of the rookie zone. It is really powerful. It propels us to do our best work because we don’t like it. We can’t stand to be in this state of tension in which the size of the task is bigger than our capability, and it pushes us and propels us forward. We either let go or we push through.

I think what I learned in this research is that when we linger too long on a plateau, a little part of us dies inside. But when we step out of the space of knowing—where we are fully capable—and step into unfamiliar territory, we feel alive. I think it is actually where we feel divine, and, in some ways, I feel like it is where we see God’s hand working in our lives.

Now my research has been in the professional world, but I can’t help but see some of the parallels to our spiritual lives. I was recently struck by something I read in a weekly letter home from my nephew Dylan, who is a BYU student now serving in the Japan Kobe Mission. He told a tale of two investigators, and it might be a familiar tale to some of you returned missionaries.

Dylan talked to one investigator who said, “Honestly, I don’t understand the purpose of life.”

Dylan spoke with another investigator who was convinced that he already knew a lot about the Church from TV and the Internet, and he was eager to share what he knew and teach the missionaries.

When young Elder Wiseman described teaching the first investigator, he said, “I felt like my soul was on fire.”

He described the experience of teaching the second investigator as a standoff, an inability to teach, and a total absence of the Spirit. In his letter he then referenced—as you might expect—2 Nephi 9:28:

When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves.

Dylan then went on to say, in the beautiful simplicity of a nineteen-year-old missionary, “Yeah, don’t be that guy.”

Don’t be that guy. When we come to depend on acquired knowledge, we can easily fall prey to secularism, which offers us a one-eyed view of the world. It is like we see clearly but in a limited way. It is like we see half of the colors in a spectrum. We don’t really see clearly until we unite our knowledge and our faith—or, in the words of Robert Frost, “As my two eyes make one in sight.”3

Some of you know that Stanford University was built as a memorial to Leland and Jane Stanford’s only child, who passed away in his youth. His mother, the great visionary Jane Lathrop Stanford, designed a church as the center­piece of the campus. Inscribed on the walls of the east transept of the church are these words:

Knowledge is intelligence and its impress comes upon the mind. Wisdom is the desire of the heart prompted by God’s highest and most Divine nature and comprises all knowledge. Wisdom is the highest spiritual intelligence, while the natural man, through knowledge, can know nothing of wisdom.

A man may have great intelligence and yet have nothing of the Christ life within him.4

I think sometimes our state of not knowing is actually where we come to know God. It is where we discover.

The Trap of Knowledge

So how do we escape the trap of knowledge? I am going to share four simple things that we can do.

1. Ask More Questions

The first is to ask more questions, and one of the most powerful shifts we can make as a leader is to shift from a place of knowing and to operate from a place of inquiry.

My husband and I have four children. But twelve or thirteen years ago we had a mere three children, ages six, four, and two. I was talking to my buddy Brian at work, and we were just ­commiserating about some of our parenting challenges, and I said, “You know, Brian, I feel like I have become a little bit of a dictator in my house. I have become a bossy mom.”

Brian acted very surprised by this, and he said, “Liz, you don’t strike me as a bossy mom.”

I said, “Let me describe bedtime at our house.” And if you have the six-four-two combo pack at your house, you know exactly what this is like.

It is “Okay, kids, time for bed. Put that away. Go over here. Help your sisters. Get your pajamas on. No, no, no, the tag goes in the back. Turn that around. Go brush your teeth. Go back. Use toothpaste. Time for a book. Get a book. Not that book. No big books, not five books, no princess books. Okay, get me a little book. Good. Story time done. Say your prayers. Get into bed. Not in my bed. Out of her bed. Back to bed. Go to sleep.”

There is no yelling. It is just constant telling, night after night.

So Brian, overlooking the fact that this was recreational complaining and that I wasn’t actually looking for coaching, offered me a little coaching anyway, and he said, “Liz, why don’t you go home tonight and try speaking to your children only in the form of questions?”

I went on about the ridiculous nature of this task and how that would take me four hours to get them to bed. But then I became really intrigued by this challenge—a challenge that I have come to call the extreme question challenge—and I decided I would try it. And I would take it to its extreme. Nothing but ­questions would come out of my mouth.

So I did it. Dinner was interesting, and playtime was interesting, and when we got to bedtime, I said, “Kids, what time is it?”

And they said, “Bedtime?”

And I said, “What do we do first? Where does that go? Who needs help getting their pajamas on? Who is going to be the first to brush their teeth? Okay, whose turn is it to pick the story? Which story are we going to read? Who is going to read the story—Mom or Dad?”

“Pick Dad, pick Dad, pick Dad!” I hoped.

And then it was, “Okay, what do we do when story time is over?”

And they said, “Well, we pray,” because they knew.

And then my last question was, “Okay, who is ready for bed?”

“Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Pick me! Pick me!”

And they went and got in their beds and stayed in their beds, and I was left in the hallway simply to wonder, “How long have they known how to do this?”

I learned that when I asked questions, other people found answers. I learned that when I asked questions, people really didn’t need me to tell them what to do. They needed me to ask them an intelligent question. We can tell less, and we can ask a lot more.

2. Admit What You Don’t Know

About twenty years ago I sat in a meeting that really changed how I define a great leader. I was working at Oracle with our three top executives: the president, the chief technology officer, and the chief financial officer. We had been running a series of strategy summits, bringing in our executives in groups of about thirty at a time to brief them on the strategy and then send them on their way. I was meeting with the three executives after the third program, and the feedback wasn’t good. The feedback wasn’t good on the second or the first because the participants said the strategy articulated by our top executives—the three men I was sitting with—wasn’t very clear. And, honestly, it wasn’t really compelling.

I was reviewing the feedback with them, and they became unusually quiet. So what did I do? I just went through the feedback one more time to make sure they understood this. That is when Jeff, the chief financial officer and my boss, said, “Hey, Liz, you can stop beating us up.”

And I had felt, “Darn, because that was really fun. I was enjoying that for just a little bit.”

And he said, “You can stop beating us up, because we get that there is a problem. The issue is that we don’t know how to do this.”

So then I was trying to figure out what it was that they didn’t know how to do. Develop leaders? Because I wasn’t so worried about that. But now the president and the chief technology officer were both nodding their heads in agreement, and Jeff said, “We have never run a twenty-five-billion-dollar company before. We don’t know how to set a strategy for a company this global and this complex. It is new to us.”

As I was contemplating the implications of this, he said, “But if you could help us figure out how to do this, that would be useful.”

See, in fast times, everyone is winging it. Even the people at the top—particularly the people at the top. So maybe if people are looking up to you, you could admit what you don’t know. It creates a powerful dynamic in an organization. For those of you who are actually at the bottom of the organization, where you are the new hire, relax. You don’t have to pretend, because you are not being hired for what you have learned at college. You are being hired for your raw intellect and your ability to think and reason and solve problems. Your value will come from the know-how you build, not the know-how you bring.

3. We Can Throw Away Our Notes

Dr. C. K. Prahalad of the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business was considered to be the greatest management thinker of his time. He was also a terrible fire hazard to the university because his courses were so perpetually oversubscribed that students lined the halls just trying to get in earshot of one of his lectures. When C. K. was a tenured professor, his wife, Gayatri, found a stack of his teaching notes in the trash bin of their home office. So she rescued this most precious resource, and she returned it to C. K. later that night. He thanked her, but he admitted, “I actually threw those away on purpose because my students deserve my best thinking and fresh thinking every semester.”

So if we need to inject a little bit of rookie freshness into our work, maybe we should throw away our notes. And I should say that I am speaking here mostly to the staff and the faculty. If you are a student, hold on to those notes for just a little bit longer.

4. Learn to See the Genius in Others

Last of all, instead of showing what we know, we can learn to see the genius in others. I mentioned that my husband and I have four children. Three of them have what I would describe as an active sense of adventure—­loving roller coasters, jumping off of Utah bridges into cold water, etc. Christian, our seventeen-year-old, is different from the rest of them. Instead of being on the scale of adventurous where my other kids are, he is way off the spectrum. He is a kid who was born without a sense of fear. He is a kid who has been living his life as if Red Bull were his corporate sponsor. His mantra is “See it, climb it, figure out how to get down later. Think it, make it, clean up the mess absolutely never.”

It is very easy for Larry and me to get in this mode of wanting to keep him safe and telling him how to do things and dispensing, at the very least, essential survival advice to keep him “alive until twenty-five”—which is kind of our mantra. Most of this advice just bounces off of him, as you can imagine. A couple of years ago I decided that I was going to do something different. Instead of trying to dispense advice, I would simply focus on seeing his brilliance.

Let me just give you a sense of this kid. One of his little creations was a man fort. That was not the problem. The problem was where this fort was. The fort was on our roof for about two months before we discovered it.

I have come to learn to see him differently. Whereas I used to see a dangerous and destructive kid who might kill himself and the rest of us with him, I have come to see a creator, a brilliant and bold innovator, a problem-solver, someone who takes initiative, and a fearless missionary. I see him differently, and nothing makes me happier than that special look that I like to think is reserved just for Mom, and it is that look when he has done something kind of ingenious.

One of my favorites was when we came home recently to find out that he had gashed open his shin. Of course I started to get alarmed, but then he rolled up his pant leg to show me that he had just stitched it up himself.

My first response was, “How scary!” But then I suppressed that, and I said, “How brilliant! How brilliant! And how cost effective for your father and me that you have done that.”


We are just about out of time, so let me sum up by saying that, ironically, what I know is that we are so often at our best when we don’t know. The best leaders don’t have the answers; the best leaders have really good questions, and they use those questions and their own intelligence to bring out the genius in the people around them.

The great philosopher Bono was describing the great actor George Clooney, and he compared him to the second of two British prime ministers from the 1800s. He said:

It has been said that after meeting with the great British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, you left feeling he was the smartest person in the world, but after meeting with his rival Benjamin Disraeli, you left thinking you were the smartest person.5

I think it is time that we recognize it is not the genius who is at the top of the intelligence hierarchy but rather the genius maker. I think we need to recognize that we tend to do our best work when we are on the outer edges of what we know, when we are doing something hard and new, and when we are growing through challenge. This is not only where we do our best work but where we tend to find our greatest joy.

Let me end with a video filmed by ten-year-old Zia Terry with a GoPro camera on her head as she made her first attempt at the forty-meter ski jump at Park City, Utah, moving through her fear to great exhilaration. [The video was shown.]6

For those of you lucky ones who are going to be taking jobs, I hope some of you will take jobs that you are not fully qualified for and tell yourselves, “Who wants a job they are qualified for? There would be nothing to learn.”

So yes, let us gain knowledge, but let’s not get too big for our britches. The best leaders are restless learners and perpetual rookies. They realize that it is not what you know that counts, it is how fast you can learn.

Yes, “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36), but it is in seeking, not knowing, that we find truth. In that space is where we discover the true glory of God. Thank you.


1. Pat Riley, speech to SAP, 12 July 2011, Miami, Florida.

2. From Natalie Wolchover, “Breaking the Code: Why Yuor Barin Can Raed Tihs,” LiveScience, 9 February 2012, livescience.com/18392-reading-jumbled-words.html; see “Aoccdrnig to Rscheearch,” Know Your Meme, knowyourmeme.com/memes/aoccdrnig-to-rscheearch; see also Matthew J. Traxler, “Let’s Hvae Smoe Fun Conrer: Internet Hoax Rocks Lanugage Sceince Wolrd,” Introduction to Psycholinguistics: Understanding Language Science (Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 402–3.

3. Robert Frost, “Two Tramps in Mud Time” (1934).

4. See Jane Lathrop Stanford, Inscriptions in the Memorial Church of Stanford University (Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press, 1905); “Memorial Church Inscriptions,” Stanford Office for Religious Life, web.stanford.edu/group/religiouslife/cgi-bin/wordpress/memorial-church/history/memorial-church-inscriptions.

5. Bono (Paul David Hewson), “George Clooney,” Time, 30 April 2009, content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1894410_1894289_1894280,00.html; referring to the story related by Her Highness Princess Marie Louise, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria:

A young lady was taken in to dinner one night by Gladstone and, the following night, by Disraeli. She was asked what impression these two celebrated men had made upon her. She replied thoughtfully, “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England!” [My Memories of Six Reigns (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1957), 24]

6. See “Video of Girl’s First Ski Jump Goes Viral,” ABC News via Good Morning America, 19 March 2012, abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/03/video-of-girls-first-ski-jump-goes-viral.

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Liz Wiseman

Liz Wiseman was president of the Wiseman Group when this forum address was given on January 26, 2016.