Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When You Know Better, You Do Better...Or Do You?

When my children were babies, I loved to watch the Oprah show. I would settle myself on the couch and feed the baby, while watching Oprah interview famous people, and wax lyrical about life and love.

I often heard her say: “When you know better, you do better”. I thought it was true. I certainly hoped it was, anyway.

But time, and a growing self-awareness, has taught me that nothing could be further from the truth.

When you DO better, you do better.

Let’s face it, most of us already know what we should be doing. You know that cheeseburger is not really “food” and has no business being in your mouth, but you eat it anyway. You know that staying up until 3am watching movies will make you feel and act like crap tomorrow, but you stay up anyway. You know pro-wrestling is a big phony scam, but you watch it anyway (Ugh! Say it aint so!)

I once read a statistic in a self-help book – only 5% of people who read self-help books will actually do anything with their new-found knowledge.

The other 95% will probably move on to another self-help book, hoping it contains the magic key that will make their lives better, never realizing that they are the magic key. Knowledge is not power – it’s potential power. We are the ones who bring the power part to the equation, when we put the knowledge into action. We are the vital link that transforms knowledge from potential into reality. 

I say that from experience, because I’ve been one of the 95% for much of my life. I’ve bought so many self-help books, read them, agreed they offered good information…then put them on my shelf (or rather, arranged them, based on how they “matched” the surrounding books according to color and size, then stood back to admire how they looked on my bookshelf. I know, one of my little quirks!) 

And while I did what 95% of people do (go from book to book, or workshop to workshop – without implementing the information from the last twenty-eight books and workshops), I got the same results as 95% of other people. 

That is, floundered in debt, dabbled in this new idea, scrapped that project when it didn’t work right away - one step forward and two steps backward – never achieving the mastery, or applying the consistency, required to make anything really succeed. 

Philosopher Herbert Spencer, once said “The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

No book, or seminar, or “expert advice” can change your life - YOU change your life. Knowledge without action is like waiting for the electricity to cook dinner for you. Electricity alone is pointless, without somebody (you) to harness it, and apply it in a practical way. 

It can be easy to fool ourselves with the illusion of growth and improvement, by reading lots of books, attending lots of seminars. Real growth and improvement are the result of practice, not knowledge alone. We become better through DOING, not by simply knowing. We master skills and habits by DOING them, not by simply knowing how to do them. 

Knowing how to meditate will not make me adept at meditation. Knowing what to say will not make me a good public speaker. But knowledge + practice will.

The school system rewards us for having knowledge, but in the real world (the “School of Hard Knocks”, as my dad likes to say), we get rewarded for RESULTS, and that requires putting knowledge into practice, then honing it and working on it and experimenting with it, until we achieve a level of mastery. 

Acquiring knowledge is easy – the internet has made information more accessible than ever - but transforming knowledge into results requires dedication and practice and patience. That is the process that sifts out the truly committed from the wishful thinkers, the men from the boys, and the wheat from the chaff.

The desire to learn and the quest for knowledge has been the driving force behind every great inventor, artist, philosopher, political leader and spiritual guru. But if they took the knowledge and stowed it neatly inside their brains – what would that benefit the world? 

Likewise, your knowledge offers no benefit to you, unless you actually do something with it. Your life doesn’t improve by accumulating information. It improves when you improve…through practice, practice, practice. 

Knowing + Doing = RESULTS

Knowing + Doing = GROWTH

Knowing + Doing = IMPROVEMENT

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