The Process: Knowing vs Doing Part 3

This entry is part 12 of 28 in the series Leadership

The difference in knowing and doing is a massive topic. Books have been written on both topics as well as the process of building the bridge between them. Even more will be written as long as time lasts. The questions of Who, What, When, Where, Why and How can all be applied to these concepts. Each can be taken in different directions with different perspectives. I might address those questions one day.

Right now, my thoughts are taking me in a different direction, however. I keep coming back to the process. The process of turning knowledge into doing is like a recipe.  Turning information into action requires certain ingredients and certain instructions. The instructions may be different for each individual person, but the ingredients are the same in every situation. This list of ingredients is by no means comprehensive, but I think these are as essential as flour is to making bread. Let’s explore this process of turning knowledge into action.

Commitment/Dedication
Commitment to the process is critical to success.  If you’re not going to sell out to doing it, then it’s probably not going to get done.  In order to convert knowledge into instinctive and habitual action, there must be a dedication to accomplishing that goal.  There must be a constant focus of energy towards the goal.  Without commitment it is too easy to say “I know it” and be satisfied with knowing. Without commitment, inevitable failures will make us retreat into what is comfortable and we will be less likely to do.

Effort/Work Ethic
Commitment is impossible without effort to go along with it.  How can I be committed to accomplishing a task if I don’t put the effort and energy into it? The process of turning information into action is very similar to a player who wants to make changes to their shooting technique.  It takes practice in a number of different ways to accomplish this goal. It requires physical and mental effort. It takes thousands of repetitions and the ability to mentally push through failures. Form shooting is critical to changing shooting technique. It helps build muscle memory and is a great way to get a lot of successful repetitions in a short period of time. However, it doesn’t stop there. Successful repetitions must be executed from different spots on the floor. Shooting must be done off the move from different angles and off the dribble. Then successful repetitions must be achieved in competitive practice situations. This could be in any live situation as simple as 1 on 1.  Finally, the player must learn to execute successfully in the game situation.  They must shoot it against another team, when it matters, with referees, and fans.  They must execute these same movements in the first 5 minutes of the game and in the last 5 seconds of the game just like they did when they were form shooting. This is all tied to mental and physical effort.

Persistent Patience
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Turning knowledge into doing doesn’t happen overnight either. It’s not a just add water type of process.  It takes a lot of different ingredients, but it requires persistent patience.  It may require numerous failures.  It requires overcoming those failures. Without persistence, giving up becomes the answer.  Without persistence, settling for mediocrity becomes the norm.  Turning information into action requires patience with one’s self and one’s surroundings. This process takes time and effort.  How invested are we in that process?

Opportunity
All the commitment, effort, and persistent patience in the world won’t do much good if there’s no opportunity.  It’s hard to grow a seed if it is never planted in the ground.  I can have all of the fertilizer, water, and garden tools in the world, but if there’s no dirt then it’s never going to grow. Of course, it’s not too hard to find some dirt.  There is plenty of ground everywhere, and I think we’re surrounded with opportunities all the time. We may not see those opportunities.  We may avoid these opportunities.  The ground that surrounds us may not be the most fertile and it may be filled with rocks, but if we’re committed and if we’re willing to work hard, then we can still make that seed grow.  We must take full advantage of every opportunity that we’ve been given to make each seed grow. There are plenty of opportunities to engage the process of turning knowledge into action.  Do we recognize them and embrace them?

Coaching
One of the more underestimated and overlooked ingredients in the process is that of coaching. We need someone to guide us, to give us feedback, and to help us along the way. Going back to the shooting analogy, a player who goes in the gym by themselves and shoots incorrectly 1000 times will be worse than the player who takes a good coach with them and shoots 300 times. It’s not just about working harder; it’s also about working smarter.  Good coaches will help make the work more productive. In transforming knowledge into action, a good coach is necessary to help the person know when they are on track and when they may need to get back on track. This does not players should always have a coach around.  There are plenty of times where coaches should not be around. Players need to explore things on their own. Part of this process must come from their own learning and experiences.  However, a good coach can be integral in the process.

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