How to know everything, yet know nothing

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- You have probably heard the adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." What does this really mean? I've personally heard it referenced when discussing promotions, but I've also heard it when talking about getting things done. These are really interrelated. If you can work your boss's boss's priority, you can become your boss's "go-to" problem solver. If you solve other people's problems, they will help solve your problems.

Do you know a person that you can ask anything and they can always say, "Give me a minute, I'll find out," and five minutes later, you have the answer you needed? How do you become that person? The fact is that they know the right question to ask and who to ask. Getting anything done in the military, and I would argue in life in general, is about knowing the right question to ask, the right time to ask it, and who to ask.

How do you know what to ask, when to ask and who to ask? Networking. Surround yourself with people who know things, and pay attention to what other people do and what other people know. You don't have to know, you just need to know who knows. But, simply knowing isn't enough. You have to build a reputation for being able and "willing" to help others get what they need when they need it and with a positive attitude.

I mentioned earlier if you help other people solve problems, they will be more willing to help you. I once went to a leadership conference that discussed making more deposits than withdrawals so that you always have a reserve to draw from. Interactions with people are similar to bank transactions. You can't expect more to be in the account than you put in, and if you withdraw too often, you'll go bankrupt. In this case, bankruptcy means you are left to figure everything out on your own. Make it about networking. Help others get the answers they need or get things done that they need done, and you will all be able to accomplish greater things, together.

"You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want." -- Zig Ziglar