Knowing and Doing. Do you acquire knowledge to look and sound impressive, even to mask inadequacies? Or is what you’re actually doing with it that matters?
To know & not to do is not to know (Audio)
We all know deep down what some of the things are that are holding us back, don’t we? You know, some old demons or fears or beliefs or perceptions that “one day” we’ll get around to addressing? Agree? How many might you have? How long have they held you back? What might they have prevented you from achieving so far? Since when have you been aware of them? Could you put an opportunity cost on them perhaps? What might that add up to over the years, even decades? And when do you think that “one day” will come along that you will deal with them. How will you know that it is time to….?
(How) Are knowing and doing related?
I was sitting in a personal development seminar many years ago and extremely tired, was struggling to “stay with the speaker”. Then I remember her saying: “to know and not to do, is not to know” and sat bolt upright. It was the “zinger” I took away from that whole evening.
Isn’t it remarkable how we can procrastinate on something, rationalizing that we haven’t done enough research to justify starting; that we don’t yet know enough about it? And when we realize that this “lie” starts to get a bit thin, how often we can then find still other reasons not to “do”.
To me that was the essence of this saying.
At that point I had set numerous goals and had made numerous decisions to do what it would take to reach those goals, only to arrive at yet another end of the month simply not having done anything near enough towards the goals I thought were so important to me. Can you relate?
Of course then I beat myself up for not having done what I said I would. And instead of in the following month simply doing what I set out to, I would devote endless time analyzing why I hadn’t done it, instead of doing it. You should have heard the “mind chatter” that was raging in my head. An endless cycle. I was exhausted, but yet no closer to the results I wanted. Sound familiar?
Looking back on those situations in hindsight, of course I have much better insights into what I was allowing to happen back then. It was the amount of energy I was allowing to be spent on self-analysis wheel spin, without actually directing that analysis to becoming self-aware of the futility of some of my inner dialogue. The “left brain mind chatter” I so often refer to that does nothing than hold us back.
Carl Jung said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Rationalizing that it is fate. “That’s just the way I am, or that’s just the way it is (for me)”. The ultimate cop out.
In the meantime I have learned how valuable self-awareness can be. I learned to accept my failings and that they didn’t make me a failure, but rather took me a step closer to the success I sought each time.
I learned that self-respect plays such an important part in this journey. To me self-respect is akin to accepting something as it is without having to analyze or evaluate it. That is that I have come to respect myself (as in accept myself) the way I am, and to like myself that way. Happy with who I am and not having to keep proving myself to others (nor to me).
Living up to our own standards
We are our own harshest critics, aren’t we? How do we do this? Well, one area I have learned to better manage is the standards I set for myself. Setting impossible standards is like setting unrealistic goals. They set us up for failure. And then I have learned to practice acknowledging myself for every time I “have a go”, and that every “go” is another step closer to achieving the goal; that every “go” has defeated another “left brain obstacle” in the process.
Planning is good, but doing is better
Of course planning is important for the success of any endeavour. It is well known that: “if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail”. However, there comes the time when the planning is done and if we want to get anywhere with our planned initiative, that we actually have to start doing. There can never be a dollar earned, until a sale is made first. And then there is the old cliché: “the longest journey begins with the first step”.
Again this is that critical moment when we have the choice between finding something else that still needs to be arranged or tidied up or organized and actually taking the first step. This is the point where we can choose to procrastinate or start.
And as Carl Jung said so eloquently above this is playing out in our unconscious in the form of internal dialogue patterns; running strategies that have become “hard wired” to play out without us even noticing us doing them that way anymore.
A good coach will “hold a mirror up for you to see yourself playing this out”; making you aware of these strategies you are running unconsciously and for you to recognize their futility; in fact to see how they may be undermining you. They will have you understand that these “obstacles” were “made in the head” (often a long time ago) and that today our left brain mind chatter uses them to tell us to “play it safe” so that we don’t fail or run the risk of humiliating ourselves and damaging or injuring our ego.
Please understand how much power these strategies can have over us, if we allow them to.
When is enough?
The parallel I’d like to draw here is around education. Like the “never ending student” that just wants to get “just one more” degree or course or letter behind their name and “then I will become successful”. For them, studying has become The Comfort Zone where they can “safely” play out their life; where they are in control.
However, taking the plunge when all the education is said and done and testing themselves on the playing field can sometimes be quite a challenge at that point, can’t it? What would the point be of an athlete training and training and training and….. if they never take all that skill and condition onto the playing field and test it against a real opponent?
If we see our index finger pointing at such examples in others, when will we realize that in performing this gesture, we actually have three other fingers pointing back at us?
When will you have done enough training and preparation and planning and….. and make the choice to “just do it”?
One of the primary purposes of the collective of most of my blog articles has been to help us become aware of these unconscious forces that are at play here. To become consciously aware of them and to replace those that are holding us back with new strategies and beliefs that lead to behaviour “at cause” (as I wrote in Cause and Effect) so that we can do what we set out to do and bask in the glory of the success we deserve.
So like I said in Choice or Chance? you now face a choice. Are you going to allow those old obstacles to keep interfering and holding you back or are you going to choose to address them once and for all?
We know what we have to do, don’t we? So why not choose that now is the time to “just do it”?
As I heard Cherry Meadows say all those years ago: “to know, and not to do, is not to know”. So now you know. All you need to do is do.