Knowing and Doing

Lately I have been having different conversations with people in which I talk to the idea  of Knowing and Doing and how they are not mutually exclusive to one another. I think a perfect example that best illustrates what I mean can be found at conferences.

I believe there is an important distinction to be made. It comes in understanding that the idea of knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to apply that same knowledge.

Knowing How is Different than Doing

We have all sat in, or watched a presentation, in which we listen to the speaker and think to ourselves, “Man, they have their stuff together!” or we hear them speaking at a get together, and think, “Holy smokes, they are on it!” This is in fact attributed to knowledge, and often comes down to charisma and a well crafted delivery. A skill-set in it of itself, there is no denying that fact.

In my experience however, knowing a subject and being able to apply what you know are two fundamentally skill-sets; just because you can talk about something, it doesn’t always mean you know how to do it. Time and time again this fact has been proven true.

From the project manager that talks to the process of client engagement or project management in great detail, yet all their projects fail. The entrepreneur that talks to building a business, but whose businesses are struggling. To the life coach that helps map a plan to love yourself, but secretly hates themselves.

We crave this information as humans, and we use these insights to measure ourselves against. Sure, I should be just as put together as them.

  • Do I manage my clients like this?
  • Did I do that with my business?
  • Do I manage my people like that?

What most don’t realize however is that while eloquent in the delivery of the message, rarely do they actually follow their own advice or even believe their own approach. Not because they don’t want to, in fact I’d argue that many try and wish they did, but it is hard and they themselves are testing the sound of things to see if it works.

The Business of People

I recently gave a talk on the Business of People, in which I shared my thoughts and experiences in managing a globally distributed workforce and the lessons learned on that journey.

What I didn’t talk to however is that I myself can be considered a pretty lousy people manager. That little fact however doesn’t do away with my knowledge on the subject. You see I lack an emotional element that you require to be a good people manager in my eyes.

I have  been known to lack tact, patience, have a low tolerance for things I perceive to be annoying, socialize horribly and fail to empathize, at least externally.

Some might have guessed this from our get togethers, but I’d argue many would not have known. This doesn’t mean I don’t understand the value of people management, or how to build a team of people. It just means I have to work extra hard at understanding and applying my own insights.

Hold Yourself To Your Own Standards

While easy to be impressed and enamored by those around us, try not to idolize the individual or the subject being delivered.

Recently I was at an event where I spoke to a friend that shared his struggles over the past year or so. What it came down to were the pressures he placed on himself to achieve what he saw in others – all those people that have their stuff together. Why can’t I be more like that?

Remember, we are all just figuring out ourselves and what we portray is not always reality.

You yourself have an interesting approach, because yours doesn’t match someone else’s it doesn’t make it wrong, only different. Too often I hear the terms, “that’s not the right way” or “you should be doing it like this” and what comes to mind is, “Why?” Don’t be afraid to question the norm and establish your own path, with time your path might become the norm.

The innovations and thoughts that we all read about had to start somewhere, and I can assure you that when they did they were most likely disputed or dismissed as naive or inexperienced.

Leave a Comment