We know what we know but we don’t know what we don’t know, and it is what we don’t know that costs us, money, time and opportunities. If we want to perform at a higher level we have to think at a higher level and to think at a higher level we have to be learning, constantly, insistently, persistently and consistently.
The best leaders and the best performers are always trying to polish their skills, to develop their art, to learn and to develop. It is this trait above all others that differentiates the winners from the others. We really only start to learn when we think we know it all, and the act of learning has some hidden traps. T
hose who think they know it all are in the “I know”. Their attitude is often underpinned by a sense of ennui, a sense of superiority and the woodeness of a closed mind. Those with an open mind, however, seem to be constantly interested and optimistic about what they might learn next, that might be new and fascinating. The newness may not be entirely new, but as a diamond viewed from a slightly different angle reveals new refractions, new magic , new beauty, so a familiar concept viewed from a slightly different perspective is refreshingly different and informative. Often though, we fall into the gap. The gap between knowing and doing.
The paradigm moves from not knowing, to knowing about this, to understanding this, to doing this. Often we get stuck in the knowing. You see intellectual understanding can often be even more of an obstacle to doing than not knowing. A child that knows he should clean his teeth before bed, an adult who knows that regular exercise is advisable, a business leader who knows that he should differentiate between the urgent and important is just as likely not to act as to act. Sometimes knowing seems to insulate a person from doing just as surely as not having the knowledge in the first place.
There is a saying “to know and not to do, is not yet to know”.
Knowing and still not doing is a place of great stuckness, the gap that we all fall into if we are not very careful.
Not knowing, is a place of ignorance, a place of innocence. We either know or we do not know, simple, clean, pure. There are often good reasons why we do not know, and those reasons, given an open mind and an open heart are soon remedied. Knowing but still not doing is somehow more involuntary. It seems to involve a choice, a choice not to act, not to do. That choice may not always be conscious but it is a choice nonetheless. Like many choices, repetition can often embed and entrench that choice in our identity. We justify our poor choices by all sorts of excuses. We build our defence around spurious concepts, ignoring the basic fact that we are the sum of all of the choices that we make and we bear the responsibility for those choices.
Choosing to know and then not to do is a dangerous place, a trap. Be aware of it, avoid it at all costs and when you fall into that trap seek help to get out before familiarity makes it a comfort zone.