Wherever you look today, you will find information and awareness campaigns. If ignorance were the problem, the information age would have solved everything. Whether you want to look at issues of health and wellbeing, caring for the environment, or simply improving your lifestyle, it seems that knowledge is not enough to bring about change. Knowing is only half the battle.
For example, perhaps you know what kind of diet and food your body responds the best with. What results do you have to show for knowing this?
Or consider your goals and plans for the past twelve months. What did you know had to be done, to you to reach those goals? How much of that did you effectively implement?
Or think about how many smokers, alcoholics or addicts know that they need help. Worse yet, consider how many doctors and nurses you know or have seen that either smoke or suffer from obesity. How many traffic cops exceed the speed limit?
And how many times have you responded with “I know” when chided about something you could improve in your life?
Knowing is not enough: knowledge requires action, where you use the information and expertise moving forward.
Knowing is half the battle
While “knowing is half the battle” may well be a GI Joe quote, the reality is that when you see what the next right step forward in your life is: you still haven’t started! To win the battle – to be successful – you have to put the knowledge into action. How you use this knowledge is what will change the results. Without the execution of your plans, they are merely dreams.
Consider how much university professors and academics know. Yet, they are not generally at the forefront of change, much less driving the economy. On the other hand, people like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs never got the educations that these academics have, and look at the impact they both made in their respective fields!
There is an enormous difference between knowing and doing. Educating yourself is only the first step. You could read more self-help books, but what are you doing with all the knowledge? Consider how many books have transformed your life with tangible results. Are you showing up in your own life, or are you still in the library researching?
Knowledge alone does not change behaviour
Health awareness campaigns dominate the media. Knowledge is not enough to change behaviour.
If education were enough to change behaviour, we would have no obesity in any country. Nonetheless, the numbers continue to rise. We know exercise is good for us; nevertheless, we continue to choose sedentary lifestyles. I doubt many people are unaware of the rules of 5 fruit or vegetable helpings a day, and yet we continue to choose junk food.
Changing a habit is a complex undertaking. We are hotwired in our brains for rewards – the dopamine release we get with new information as well as with moving “to the next level”. And so, the latest video game hooks us in. We read another news article, which emulates learning, and we feel a sense of reward.
Nonetheless, nothing changes.
Complacency and a lack of motivation
Getting fit is uncomfortable. Learning to enjoy healthy foods is not an easy task, as your taste buds and digestive system adjust. Additionally, your addiction to sugar summons.
Knowing that you want to be healthy, what to do to get there, and why it will be beneficial for you, is still not enough to provide motivation and get you out of a state of complacency.
We all have our excuses:
- I don’t enjoy how it feels;
- I will do it tomorrow when I feel like it;
- When I’m inspired, I will do more;
- I’m waiting to feel more motivated;
- When the time is right, I’ll move forward;
- When things start to align, and I have more time available;
- I don’t want to risk my safety and security;
- Perhaps you’re waiting for the blue moon!
Gaining knowledge without acting on it lulls us into a false sense of security. We stay comfortably within our comfort zone, without actually moving forward. Successful people typically start before they are ready – completing the knowledge along the way. They recognise, as they move forward, the additional skills or information required.
Unfortunately, motivation is a muscle that you exercise through movement. Acquiring more knowledge will not necessarily make you more ready.
Willing is not enough: you are called to action.
Change – of any sort – is messy. It requires persistent and constant action. Visualisation and affirmations are not enough: change cannot be willed into existence.
Our neural pathways are rewritten by regularly walking a new path. You can do this with new thoughts, emotions and actions. Knowledge is power – but without effort, it is useless. Is a daily habit required that allows everything to flow smoothly and efficiently – as long as you incorporate it into your practices?
Where do you need to invest your time and energy to get the most significant results?
Applying knowledge is what makes the difference! Make sure that you are busy doing the right things, differentiating the important from the urgent. Don’t aim to be busy – aim to get results.
If knowledge is an arrow, then action is the bow. Hoping you move forward is not enough, you have to propel forward, focusing your efforts on the right steps to get the results you desire.
Wisdom is knowledge in action
Wisdom is creating something with all the knowledge and information you have acquired so far in life.
Knowledge can be something simple:
- how to manage your money,
- making a budget, and
- identifying what percentage to put away in savings.
Wisdom understands how doing this will impact your present and future by doing it consistently to get the results you are looking for. It is the choice to live a certain way, acting on the information you have.
Knowing how to identify your priorities
Even when you know what steps you must take to get to where you want to be, you have to prioritise your time, energy and actions. Busy is not the same as productive and moving forward.
What system keeps you organised and on track? Who keeps you accountable?
Start with the end in mind
Before starting my law practice, I learnt to use GANTT charts. They were a life-saver within my law practice, even for things like closing a real estate transaction. Some tasks take longer than others. And, at times, are a pre-requisite for step in the future. If you fail to start that one task well before you need it, you will find yourself up against and deadline and with no explanation for why you are not ready to close.
I learnt early on in the process to work backwards: start at the closing and all the documents to present for the closing to go smoothly. Then work backwards in time to figure out which one of those documents was the most vital first step. Which document, if you failed to have it ready on time, would mess up the entire process? Usually, it was something minuscule: a task so simple and easy, as long as done “on time”. But timing, in a real estate closing, is everything!
What is a critical task in your plans and goals?
Fundamentals of success: knowing leads to action
Action is the fundamental key to all success. (Pablo Picasso)
Before you jump into action, have a clear personal definition of success. What will it look like for you? Don’t use someone else’s definition of success – it will make you miserable. In what areas of your life would you experience change? Know and define for yourself what you want and desire, and the fears you may have to overcome along the way.
Sit down and plan your goals out: know the steps you will need to take to get there. Will you need to have learning goals as well as actionable steps? Who will you need to ask for assistance? The next two weeks are just as good a time as any to get clarity on your goals. What system works best for you: vision boards, mind-mapping, outlines, GANTT charts? Whatever it is – get it down on paper. Commit in writing to what you will do.
Take responsibility for establishing priorities. Consider what you might have to say “no” to, to have time and energy to prioritise success. What price are you willing to pay to reach success? Priorities allow you to maintain your focus, so you can avoid a hamster wheel that takes you nowhere. What is truly important for the next three months? Where will you focus your time, money and energy?
Once you have done the thinking, planning and analysis: it’s time for execution. What action will you take to get onto the road to success? Clarify what you are committed to, and then consistently do what it takes. Productivity means you stay focused on the steps that will get you the results you are aiming for – not merely keeping busy. Do it. Fail often. Get back up and do it again. Each day take one step, however small, towards your goal.
Know that you will have challenges to overcome. Be prepared to learn more – about yourself, planning and execution. Revisit your plans, and consider how you will do things differently to get the results you are aiming for.
Follow through always.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)