What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know

Exactly what does “what you don’t know you don’t know” mean? To many, it might sound like a bunch of psychobabble, so let me explain the concept.

First, imagine all the knowledge that exists in the universe in the shape of a large pie, divided into five slices. Four of the slices are somewhat small, and one is larger than all of the others put together. I found a wonderful illustration of this idea at www.thepieofknowledge.com/about.html.

The first small slice consists of “what you know you know,” the knowledge you already have and do not doubt. For example, you know your name, your age, the street on which you reside, and the name of your best friend.

The second small slice consists of “what you know you don’t know.” You know some people have this knowledge, but you don’t happen to have it. For example, you know many people speak French, and “you know you don’t know” French. You know that people can fly in space, but you personally don’t know exactly how to do it.

The other two small slices are pretty self-explanatory: “what you used to know but have forgotten,” and “what you think you know but don’t.”

Now, for the remainder of the pie—that huge, gigantic slice. It consists of “what you don’t know you don’t know.” In other words, it includes all the knowledge you don’t know exists and therefore is not a part of your reality. You don’t even know what questions to ask so that you can know this knowledge!

For example, let’s say you need to buy an insurance policy for your new apartment, and you’ve never bought an insurance policy before. If you don’t know what is (or should be) included in an insurance policy, you will not know what questions to ask an insurance agent to make sure you’re getting the policy that’s best for you. Now let’s say your house floods during a storm. You call your insurance agent to make a claim, and you find out that you have no coverage for flood damage. When you ask, “Why not?” he replies, “You didn’t ask for it.” Well, why didn’t you? Because you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why I always ask my insurance agent at the end of every call, “What do you know about this issue that I haven’t asked about?”

When you don’t even know what questions to ask, how can you possibly learn this kind of knowledge? It needs to be revealed to you in some way—either you read about it, someone tells you about it, or you somehow stumble upon it. Otherwise, you will never know what you don’t know.

Many people who struggle with feeling good about themselves don’t know what they don’t know, so the idea of being truly happy isn’t part of their reality. The possibility doesn’t occur to them. CWM has been intentionally designed to help you move the practical knowledge of how to truly feel good about yourself from what you don’t know you don’t know, to what you know you don’t know, to what you do know.