Things You Say You Don’t Know

“Don’t let the things you DON’T know confuse the things you DO know!” Where have you heard that before? And, were you really listening?

When I heard it from a friend of mine several years ago, it stuck in my head like a tune you can’t stop humming—and I’ve repeated that truth often. My friend, a pastor, was actually talking about how difficult passages in the Bible are sometimes hard to understand on first reading. He said, “Don’t let yourself get derailed or discouraged because of something you don’t understand—take comfort in the things you DO understand, and the things you DON’T will become clearer down the road with more knowledge and context.”

I’ve found that also to be true in business!

Normally, when owners and managers talk about organizing a business, they often bemoan that they “DON’T know how to systemize” their business; that “it seems too complicated and overwhelming.”

I remember hearing about a young sculptor who was given the task of sculpting an elephant for a certain rich lady. When she had a massive stone shipped to his studio, the sculptor sat and pondered for days how to turn the featureless block into something that would satisfy this important customer. At first he was also quick to think, “I don’t know how!” But, finally the sculptor got up the courage to approach the great stone, and he wisely began chipping away everything that didn’t look like an elephant.

You see, there were some things he DID know!

And that’s what I remind business owners and managers who call me about how to begin systemizing their companies. I tell them, “There is a lot you DO know! That’s where you begin! The problems caused by NOT having well-planned written systems are already happening to you every day—you DO know about that!

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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  • zookeeper

    OK, I know I’m a bit unusual but I work as a purchasing agent for a printing company and have a masters degree in New Testament Studies. I really appreciate the article, right on target. I have been amazed over the years at the value of my degree work when applied to my job for a printing company. I think you would do well to spend more time with your pastor friend for more article ideas. Thanks again for a great article.

  • Melissa Sienicki

    So many great points, Philip. And, as you stated above, when you don’t know, go to the experts! Read books, articles, blogs, etc. of the people that DO know.