Knowing what to do it’s not the same as doing what you know.
I’m reminded of this simple truth every day.
I dedicate some time every day to nourish my knowledge.
I read, study, have conversations.
I learn new strategies and discover new perspectives.
And sometimes I write about the things I’ve learned.
However, all the knowledge of the world is meaningless if I don’t act on it.
Knowledge is not power. It’s just potential.
It’s when we act that we transform it into power.
So, the right questions we should ask every time we learn or discover something is “what do I do with this new knowledge or insight? How can I act on it?”.
And not only in that moment. We should ask those questions every day.
This morning I realised that in my burning desire to learn and acquire new knowledge, I forget to act on it.
Even worst, it’s getting in the way of habits that are important to me.
So today I’ll focus on acting on what I know before learning something new.
“I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee
I don’t know how long I’ve been staring at this empty page.
My process to write these short posts is very simple.
I start a 15 minutes timer, and I open an empty document.
Whatever comes out of my head ends up here.
There are morning when it’s easy.
The words were already there, waiting for this moment.
Other mornings, like this one, my mind is empty: no ideas, no thoughts, no words.
It’s funny because most of the time I can’t stop my mind from thinking no matter how hard I try. I usually struggle to slow down my thoughts, to take a pause and be present in the moment.
And now that I need my mind to work, I got only silence.
Though, there is incredible power in not thinking. We may discover that we have other sources of intelligence; some within us like the physical one and the emotional one. Others are unlocked when we connect to something bigger.
When we pause our inner voice, we can source the words from the universe.
I can see it coming.
It’s like watching myself from the outside.
I can observe the whole scene as it was a movie.
The external trigger and my internal reaction.
I can clearly see the inner pain surging and opening its way to the surface.
I can see it, but I can’t stop it.
All the work I’ve done on myself gave me the ability to see my reactions when they are happening. I learned what triggers me and I can spot all the signs.
Yet, I can’t stop all of this from happening.
Some reactions, some beliefs are wired so profoundly that it’s hard to change them.
I may, one day. Or I may not.
At some point in my self-development journey, I thought I would be able to change everything. So, it was frustrating to see some patterns surfacing without me being able to do anything to fix them.
Until I realised that I don’t have to.
There are things we can not change. Not now at least.
I’m learning to be present with what it is.
Through self-compassion, I’m finding peace.
In my experience, any sustainable change in our life takes at least four stages:
- Becoming aware of what you want to change
- Choose to change
- Act on the choice
- Make it stick
They are all vital and, with different labels, you can find these steps in self-development journeys.
But this morning I woke up realising how often the second stage is overlooked.
To want a change is not enough to make it happen.
You need to make a choice. A deliberate choice.
You need to transform a desire into a clear intention and then into an objective.
This is particularly true when we talk about innovation. Innovation is a deliberate human change to something existing to create something new that has an impact.
It’s not enough to need or want to innovate. You need to choose to innovate. To set the intention on which you can act.
So, if you want to be an innovator the first step is to choose to be one.
It’s not easy, I know.
I wrote this post to remind myself that it’s not enough to want to change.
I need to make a choice.
“Energy flows where attention goes”.
As we know, our attention is incredibly limited.
“A neuroscientist named Manfred Zimmermann estimates that our capacity for perceiving information is about 11 million bits per second. […] He also estimates that your conscious attention has a capacity of about 40 bits per second. […] That’s a tiny, tiny fraction of what you can perceive: 40 bits out of a potential 11 million. That’s 10,999,960 bits of information that you sense but don’t notice, every second” from Liminal Thinking.
The choice of where you put your attention is crucial. It will define what image of reality you will create and on which you will act. Yet, how often is the choice yours?
There is a war going on for your limited attention. Every brand and every company are battling to be at the centre of that tiny fraction of world that you can perceive. This is why it is more important than ever that you learn to deliberately control where you want to put your attention.
I do it through my morning rituals. Before the world knocks at my door, I spend some time to anchor my day and choose where my attention will be. I’ll do it through meditation and journaling.
You may find different ways, each one is unique, but it’s important to take the time to choose where to put our attention.
The world has become a complicated place to live and work.
Business experts call it the VUCA world.
“Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.”
Hasn’t it always been like that? I mean, with our knowledge we can look back to a few centuries ago and say that life was much easier. But how was living for the people at that time? With their knowledge and understanding of the world?
My point is that, no matter how far we expand our knowledge and understanding, our boundaries extend with us. And the universe outside, the space of the not known, will always look volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
The other evening, I was talking to a small crowd about leadership, and this question emerged.
If the world will always be complex and uncertain, how do we thrive in this complexity?
Immediately another question popped up in my mind.
Who do we know that thrive in complexity and uncertainty?
I smiled because the answer looked so obvious at that moment.
Children. To them, this world made of and by adults must look so volatile, complex, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. With their short and unstable feet, their small hands, their limited language everything must seem so complicated.
Yet, they thrive.
What can we learn from a growing toddler?
What if your ultimate purpose is to fully realise and express who you are?
The quest for purpose or “why” is becoming more and more relevant for both individual and organisations. I witnessed groups dedicating long brainstorming to define their purpose, their cause. I have friends who felt lost because they don’t have a higher cause or a reason to which they can dedicate their lives.
We are constantly reminded about great leaders with a compelling vision and a clear purpose that fits in a t-shirt or an Instagram post.
You probably feel that you too should have a higher cause and are investing time and resources to find your “why”.
I hear you. I’ve been there.
The quest for purpose is a tricky one. It can quickly transform into feel-good research. Without even noticing, you shift from “what is my purpose?” to “what is a purpose that would make me feel one of the good ones?”.
Nothing wrong in being one of the good ones but if your purpose is not aligned with who you are, it won’t bring in your life the bliss you’re looking for.
So, what if you decide that your purpose is just to fully become who you are meant to be? The quest then becomes “who am I?”. A personal one. One that is not about feeling good but being real.
And in this quest for your “Who”, you may also find your “why”.
This post is inspired by this short and fascinating article.
In the last months, I’ve been searching a lot about goals vs habits, and behaviours vs identity.
I started this quest because I struggle with goals. I tried many strategies, methodologies, tools without cracking the code of this limit.
Until I started focusing on habits instead of goals. Creating patterns is definitely more in tune with how I operate, and it helped me improve in many aspects of my life. Still, sticking to some habits has been and still is harder than others.
The next shift in my quest was realising that only when my habits are in synch with who I am, I can be more consistent and create significant results.
These are my learnings so far.
Your identity informs your behaviours.
The starting point is the WHO, not the WHAT or the HOW. Once you have clarity about who you are (“I am a writer”), then you can design your goals or habits (depending on what works better with you) as a way to become more of who you are (“I am a writer because I write every day”).
Unfortunately, at least for me, this is not enough to really create an impact in my life.
Your behaviours shape or reinforce your identity.
To know what to do is not the same as doing what you know. Once you have clarity about who you are and you have designed your goals or habits, you need to infuse discipline in your practice.
That means creating the structure that will support your newly designed behaviours. Over time these identity-based behaviours will shape and reinforce your identity, that in turn will infuse more energy in your behaviours creating a positive growing loop.
To empower means to give (someone) the authority or power to do something. Or, more broadly, to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.
Being able to empower others is often listed among the pillars of an effective leader.
When we empower someone we are giving the same power we have. An empowered person gains control over her work or life.
In organisations, empowering everyone is a crucial ingredient to create a democratic and flat organisation. One in which, everyone raises to the same level creating co-leadership.
Though, there is a fascinating paradox in empowerment.
When we, as leaders, are empowering others, somehow we are elevating ourselves one layer above them. They may have now the power to do something, but we are the ones who gave them the power. So, we are still above them, and they have less power than we have.
Isn’t that through the empowerment of others we are in reality reinforcing our own power?
What would change if instead of empowering others we create the space in which they can awaken their inner power by themselves?
Have you ever heard of a product called VantaBlack?
It’s a paint developed in the United Kingdom, and it is one of the darkest substances known. It can absorb up to 99.6% of the light.
If you search for it on youtube, you’ll find a video in which the creators show a mask painted with this material.
If you look at the object from the front, you just see a flat black surface, like a hole in the space. The mask has no shape, no depth, no form. Only when the camera moves to the side, you can see that the object is not flat.
This is because our eyes use lights and shadows to understand the shape of things.
That video reminds me of the importance of having different perspectives. Sometimes, we get stuck into one view, and we become blind to the richness of what we are looking at.
People, situations, problems.
To be able to perceive their depth and their substance, we need to embrace different perspectives.
We can shift the lights or move to a new point of view.
Only seeking multiple perspectives, we can see the wholeness in everything and everyone.