The one sentence summary

Embracing the idea of Not Knowing leads to a more exploratory frame of mind and a better approach to life and business.


  • Those who ‘tolerate the unknown’ can use it to their advantage, developing an attitude that helps them to experience creativity, possibility, excitement and even joy.
  • This involves a path from fear to curiosity.
  • Not Knowing is the frisson that makes life worth living.
  • Knowledge has many dangers. It creates the illusion of power, based on the allure of the known.
  • However, overconfidence blinkers, and specialization creates limits, which often lead to wilful blindness, in which people (or indeed so-called experts) can’t or won’t see the truth. (Realistic confidence doesn’t get us in trouble, but its bedfellow overconfidence does.)
  • This can lead to the pretence of knowledge. This is a nasty chain in which we often depend too much on experts and leaders. If they appear too certain, then the weight of expectation falls on them and blind obedience to authority follows – often with disastrous consequences.
  • In essence, knowledge keeps changing, things are becoming more complex and ambiguous, so the size of the ‘unknown’ is growing.


  • Finisterre is the edge of the world. Most people avoid the unknown because they fear it suggests ignorance or incompetence.
  • But in fact, darkness can illuminate, so we need to reframe our approach to Not Knowing.
  • Creative people live in this world all the time – ‘the space between angels and demons’. This provides creative ambiguity and the freedom to deviate – arguably the lifeblood of innovation and original thought. This is usually where entrepreneurs find their ideas.
  • As such, it’s okay to say: “I don’t know”, and move from a position of control to trust. Entertaining doubt and working with resistance is therefore fine.
  • This gives greater scope to challenge assumptions, generate multiple hypotheses, bring diverse voices together, improvise and explore.
  • Experimenting, making mistakes, embracing fluidity, and embracing antifragility (see Nassim Nicholas Taleb) are all beneficial.


  • This book has a number of spiritual elements that have life relevance, but sometimes less so for pure business.