Do You Lead with What You Know?
I have come to believe that the greatest challenge we face as human beings is acting on what we know. We don’t lack for information nearly as often as we lack for application. We don’t lack for knowing; we lack for doing. So, the million dollar question is – what keeps us from doing what we know needs to be done?
The answer: OBSTACLES… that keep us from consistently acting on what we know. In life, things simply get in our way and prevent us from doing what we want and need to do.
Here are the 7 stages you might find yourself in, whenever you make a decision to act upon. Understanding them and assessing – the level you are at – in the crucial areas of your life, is the 1st step toward overcoming the obstacles and moving where you know you need and want to go.
Stage ONE: You Don’t Know – ‘Ignorance,’ is a word that has a negative connotation to it, but it simply means ‘lack of knowledge’.
Even the best and brightest don’t often learn everything in school or from their parents, teachers, books, or mentors. As adults, it is our responsibility to discover the areas where we need to keep learning and growing whether it is our work, our personal relationships or our spiritual growth.
Not only that, but sometimes we get bad advice. Someties we learn the wrong things which keep us from knowing and living out the right things. Part of life discovering options and becoming aware of what we need to know.
Stage TWO: You Know But Do Not Believe – Maybe you just need fresh insights on existing truth. You have heard something, but you don’t believe it or you don’t think it applies to your situation. You might even accept it in your head, but not at the heart level. You don’t buy-in; you don’t internalize it; and so, you miss it.
Perhaps, you are highly successful, or somewhat doing fine that you see no need to consider advice about what to do if you are in the dumps. You may not think you need to do something different until the time that you get slammed under a bus. Or maybe, you are so deep in debt or out of shape that you cannot imagine listening to any advice that seems directed at those who are experiencing good times. So, you time it out and don’t take the information seriously.
Stage THREE: You Know And Believe It Too, But Do Not Do – Very often we know and believe what we should do, but we simply do not do it. We lack CONVICTION. Beliefs are things we hold; convictions are things that hold us. You can tell me what is important in your life, but your schedule shows your convictions. The same holds true with what you value and where you spend your time.
We usually know and believe but do not do for one of 3 reasons – a) inconvenient, b) unnecessary, or c) difficult.
Here is a typical conversation between me and my children…
“Please unload the dishwasher and load these soaked dishes.”
Several hours pass-by with several other reminders by both their mother and I. Still nothing happens. So, I say, “I know that you know. But, you haven’t done anything. The soaked dishes have dried out and we reminded you both at least 3 times so far to load the dish washer to clean!”
The dishes are not put away because putting them away creates an inconvenience to a child who has something better to do. And, what child cannot find something better to do than putting dishes away?
Living out a principle we know and believe also might hit an obstacle if we see it as unnecessary. You might believe in putting money in to your retirment account, and you might even have the funds to do it. But if times are good, you might not see the need. So, you rationalize that your investments are doing just fine, and you spend the money on something else.
c) Difficult: Doing something that is good for us is not always easy. In fact, it is often difficult. It is true of most principles that are valuable. It is not that they don’t work but that they are hard. So, people stop trying them, or never try them at all.
Stage FOUR: You Know And Believe, But Can Not Do – We often lack the skills and training to do the things that increase our odds for success. When we face this obstacle, we can learn the skill or find someone who has the skills we lack to help us.
Stage FIVE: You Know And Do Inconsistently – At one time or other, most of us are guilty of saying, “OMG! I don’t have time for doing this.” Well, you have exactly the same number of hours per day just like everyone else. Unfortunately, we too often lack commitment or get distracted from doing the things that are important, and they never become part of our daily routines.
Stage SIX: You Know And Do Consistently – At this stage you know what to do, and you are doing it. Of course, you do not remain here consistently in every area. That’s just life. You cannot have it all, but you can work on the things that really matter.
Getting to this stage requires knowledge, understanding, commitment, hard work, and discipline.
Stage SEVEN: You Know And Make it Second Nature – Consistency, while important to success, is not the end of the line. When you know something and believe in it and do it consistently over time, eventually you reach a point where living out the principle becomes as natural as breathing. You don’t have to think about whether to correct the cashier who just gave you too much change; you do it automatically because honesty is part of who you are.
I hope, by now, you see the challenges and realities you need to understand whether you are highly successful, or struggling to make ends meet, or somewhere in between. But as you now understand, awareness is not always enough. How you think about what you see and know; the way you define ‘success’, your attitude, and your commitment to improving your thought processes – factors into what you will eventually do with what you know.
In other words, thoughts only benefit you when they are applied. Will you simply collect ideas? Or will you make the effort to consistently apply these principles in your life?