June 13, 2018 Common Good

Letting Go of Knowing

A competent communitycreates space for what is unknowable about life. This is another major distinction from systems. The acknowledgment of mystery has advantages: the sense of strength that comes from letting questions go unanswered, the sense of aliveness that comes from realizing there is more than what you know. All learning comes from moments of mystery. Mystery is the answer to the unknown. In actualizing its abundance, a community welcomes mystery, for that is a catalyst for creativity. Mystery gives us freedom from the burden of answers. Answers are just a restatement of the past.

Being “competent” is not just about how well you do your job or how you perform.  That can be important, but competency in community also means having the capacity to be open to what we don’t know, to stay curious.

On one hand this means giving up the burden to be the know-it-all. What spaces do you currently occupy where you believe yourself to know best? How might you hold space for unknowing, for mystery, for discovery?

On the other hand this might mean taking leadership in spite of your personal sense of incompetence. Often we defer leadership believing that we must wait to lead until we are certain of the outcome. How might you accept responsibility this week in spite of what you don’t know?

Share with someone today where you find mystery in your work and community.




McKnight, John. The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods (pp. 90-91). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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