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Why Being a Know-It-All Can Hurt Your Career


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Our celebration of Women’s History Month continues as we welcome back CeCe Morken - CEO of Headspace, one of today's most successful digital wellness apps. 

In Part 2 of our discussion, we delve deeper into her thoughts on achieving outstanding leadership, the importance of being a learn-it-all, and how to recognize your true value.


During this week’s episode of Motivational Mondays, we asked CeCe what skills we need to learn to become great leaders. 

CeCe believes that one of the most significant traits of outstanding leadership is to understand that the role is not a one-person show. Instead, a leader needs to create an environment where others have the support and tools needed to shine and be successful.

In short, the responsibility of a leader is to bring out the greatness in others.

CeCe elaborates, "I think it's about learning the value of the word 'team,' that it's what we do together as opposed to what any one player does, and so there's discipline around hiring a team that will be all-star vs. an all-star team."


When adding people to her team, CeCe says that she would always choose to hire someone who is a "learn-it-all" rather than a "know-it-all." She warns that there is real harm in believing we have all the answers. 

Why? If you think you already know everything, you will likely not be receptive to new information. Thus, a know-it-all is also more likely to become stagnant, never growing or evolving beyond their current role.

On the other hand, a learn-it-all is someone CeCe finds more appealing because they are more inquisitive, critical thinkers. A learn-it-all admits without shame that they don't have all the answers. They welcome feedback and opposing perspectives to make sure they’ve approached a problem from all angles.

CeCe shares that a learn-it-all is someone who often wants to explore and experiment when taking on projects or finding solutions. The goal should always be to help a team expand its horizon. 

On the contrary, a know-it-all can potentially stop progress. As CeCe states, "the person that sits there and just fires off the answers, well then they're done learning, and that means that's all we're going to get."


One of the most inspirational takeaways from Part 2 of our discussion with CeCe Morken is her belief that there is a genius that lives in all of us. Unfortunately, we often second guess ourselves when given an opportunity, leading to a lack of confidence or "imposter syndrome."

To get beyond this phenomenon, CeCe first encourages people to learn to appreciate themselves and grow by embracing their own unique talents. We are all a work in progress, but what you bring to the table is valuable. Ask others what they see as your strengths and how you can improve. This type of candid feedback helps you identify what makes you unique. And don’t forget, we’re always evolving and on a constant journey to become better versions of ourselves.

Listen to the bonus episode to learn the importance of boundaries between life and work. Plus, CeCe shares how Headspace is using machine learning to tailor your experiences in the future.