Knowing is not enough. We must apply.

Knowing is not enough
Bruce Lee and his son.

Bruce Lee famously once said, “knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do”.

You and I live in a time when information is plentiful. Almost anything you want to know or learn is at your fingertips. It is understandable that many people still think we’re in the information age. In truth, everyone has information now. If everyone has something, it’s no longer a competitive advantage, a source of power or a way to stand ahead of your competition (in your work or in business).

Not only is information plentiful but we are bombarded with it. Even overwhelmed. Our challenge has nothing to do with lack of information and everything to do with our ability to filter, process and apply that information.

Some sources describe our advertising exposure as a tsunami. Some digital marketing specialists estimate, in the digital age, we are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads each day. During the 1970’s, in contrast, some marketers estimate we were only exposed to 500 ads per day. That’s just the advertising messages we are exposed to.

In 2009 only 1.4 billion email messages were sent each day. Contrast that to an estimated 205 billion emails sent every day, according to this 2015 article. Imagine if you were struggling to read and reply to email in 2009. By 2015 the volume of email sent  was multiplied to 146 times the original amount.

Social media is one source of information, (and indeed misinformation) which most people consume daily. In this interesting Adweek article from 2013, the writer says the average consumer is exposed to 285 different pieces of content each day. Interestingly, that is the equivalent of 54,000 words (the length of some novels), 443 minutes of video (long enough to watch two or more full length movies) or 1,000 clickable links.

It is all very well to click through a seemingly endless loop and learn everything we can, however, there are three obvious pitfalls to this. Firstly, we don’t have the time or space to be capable of brilliant original thought. Secondly, all of that knowledge is worthless unless we can make a decision about the best action to take. Thirdly, failure to make a decision can also cause a failure to act. Knowledge is worthless unless we can apply it in some meaningful way.


Overcoming perfectionism

Overcoming perfectionismOvercoming perfectionism is a challenge for some of the smartest people I know. I know a few people who confess to being perfectionists, however, I believe so many people confuse perfectionism with having high standards.

Having high standards is not the problem. If your standards are so high that they are unattainable, cause hard deadlines to pass or prevent a project from ever being finished; then it is a problem. That is perfectionism.

Many psychologists see perfectionism as the cause of some indecision, procrastination and ultimately shame (Psychology Today). So, if you’re a perfectionist, you’re also a procrastinator.

Lisa Firestone (PhD and clinical psychologist) points out in her article that, ironically, perfectionism can ultimately lead to a decrease in our actual performance and abilities. Lisa goes on to suggest that overcoming perfectionism starts with addressing personal insecurities and becoming more self accepting.

According to Anxiety Treatment Australia, perfectionism is often associated with either anxiety or depression. If you believe that’s the case for you, then you should seek treatment for your condition.

You need to recognise and start overcoming perfectionism if it is impacting your life. It is often driven by fear of failure, however, you might be destined for failure anyway if you don’t get your fears under control.

As I point out in my book, Time to Start, the perfect sales presentation is pointless if you miss the meeting. The perfect academic assignment is worth nothing of you miss the due date. A recruiter will usually not look at the perfect resume if it is submitted after the cut off date.

Perfectionism is procrastination in disguise.