I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between what you say or know and what you do. Not really in the manner of being two-faced or hypocritical but rather how easy it can be to simply have a knowledge but never accomplish anything significant.
For example, I build software and in my industry change is constant. There is a fear of being left behind as new things come on the scene and are integrated into other’s toolkits. The reaction to that is to find ways to stay current. Often resources such as podcasts or a collection of active blogs can help keep you informed of what’s going on.
The challenge becomes actually learning the new things. It’s very easy to find your self in a situation where you know what the new things are and maybe how they are best used but not really understanding or personally using them. Your knowledge base looks like a shallow river: a mile wide but an inch deep. You’re more of a consumer of knowledge rather that a producer.
When you would have to draw upon that knowledge to produce something, you’ll quickly hit the bottom of your knowledge. You have a measure of knowledge and can communicate that to other people but you are unable to accomplish much or produce much.
There’s an old saying: “Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge”. That’s the trap that I believe it is easy to fall into. How can we have a net positive output from our learning?
So, the million dollar question is: how do you avoid that trap?
Focus on Output
Set your focus on the output of every thing you do. Ask yourself what will the end result of this activity or effort be? Does it bring me closer to what I want. Will it improve me?
A commonly used phrase is “live intentionally”. I’ve heard that quite a few times but what does it really mean? It means to be thoughtful about how you live your life; making sure that the way you are living your life lines up with what you want. So if you want to learn something or to improve your skills, intentionally set aside time to work on it.
I saved the best for last! With execution the rubber meets the road. The single best way to acquire knowledge is to actually do the thing you want to learn about. So that means in my industry, if you want to learn to build software, you need to build software. Theory has it’s place but theory won’t build software. YOU have to knuckle down and build software.
Is there a difference between what you say or know and do? What’s the output of your efforts? Are you executing and really learning and doing?