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International, independent, e-magazine on skydiving, BASE & tunnel

It's Not how MUCH you KNOW

It's how MUCH you DON'T KNOW

Alastair flies through a waterfall — by Jump4Heroes
Alastair flies through a waterfall — by Jump4Heroes

The Knowledge Protocol is my philosophy, my theory and my approach to life. It took a while for me to understand it and even longer before I could shrink my over-inflated ego, suck it up and start to apply it.

To this day, I still don’t always get it right but trying to apply it makes a large step in the right direction.

The Knowledge Protocol

The Knowledge Protocol is: It’s not about how much you know. It’s about how much you don’t know. When you approach something, even if you’re really good at it, start considering how much you don’t know about it. Much better than risking over-confidence by knowing how much of an expert you are – even if you are an expert. It’s a mindset shift.

For Experts

It’s easy to read the Knowledge Protocol. It’s a little harder to completely understand it. The application takes another step. You need to start by realising that you’re not as much of an expert as you really think you are. For some, this is easier said than done – that includes me.

You’re not as much of an expert as you really think you are


I’ve competed at over a dozen World Cups and World Championships, I’ve been on the podium at National Championships more times than I can honestly remember. In certain circles and on certain topics, it would be easy for me think that I’m an expert, that there’s little to learn from others, or that what I don’t know is not worth knowing.

We all like to think we’re good at something. It strokes our ego. We all have an ego whether we choose to admit it or not. Some are much, much larger than others, but we all have them. What I’m asking you to do is turn the other cheek to that ego and step forward. I’m not saying forget it all together – having the confidence that goes with that ego can be healthy. But, start questioning…

Smudge above the Eiger — by Douggs
Smudge above the Eiger — by Douggs


Don’t approach your next skydive, your next house purchase or your next car journey with the attitude that you know all about it. Start approaching it by questioning how much you don’t know. You’ll probably surprise yourself. There’s so much information out there.

Ask someone with less experience for their advice

Ask others

You don’t need to do this on your own. If you’re strong enough – and this is more difficult than it sounds! – throw your pride out the window. Ask someone with less experience for their advice. If you’re an instructor, ask one of your students. Their point of view will be totally different to yours and they’re likely to be considering different factors – things that you might need to be considering too.


By doing this you’ll automatically be adding complexity into your simpler routine. Be aware of this and don’t over-complicate everything. Complexity can be a good thing – I’ve written about using complexity before. It will stop you glossing over the landscape and keep you attuned to that vital detail that you might otherwise have missed.

Challenge yourself

Take the challenge… Put that ego on hold, throw pride out the window. Apply the Knowledge Protocol:

It’s not how much you know. It’s how much you don’t know.

For example, do you know?…

  • The colour of your reserve pilot chute?
  • The wind speed on a given day when jumping?
  • Your wing loading?
  • The best direction to land on a slope?
  • How to barrel roll in your wingsuit?
Alastair above the Eiger&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='' class='captionLink'>Alastair Macartney</a>
Alastair above the Eiger — by Alastair Macartney