I love learning new things. In fact, I can become obsessive with new ideas, leading to me becoming the 'expert' in my family about everything and anything. Yes, I'm a maven for new information.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved books. In fact, when my parents visited friend’s house, after dinner I’d love to sit by their bookshelf and browse through the encyclopedias, reading on a wide range of topics and subjects. [Hint: looking back into your childhood can tell you a lot about your gifts and passions!]
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to realise that knowledge is important but it doesn’t change the world. Action does. It’s great to gain information but unless it is used and put into practice, it accomplishes little.
C.S. Lewis once said, “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” Think about that. Our greatest need isn’t to learn new things but to be reminded to do what we already know.
In their best-selling business book, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action, authors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton note how many organisations do a lot of talking but often fail to put much of it into action. Plans, analysis, meetings, and presentations can become subtle substitutes for action. Companies may spend thousands of dollars on staff training yet very little of the experience and insight translates in any tangible, lasting change.
John Maxwell says, “Most Christians are educated beyond the level of their obedience.” Ouch! We already know so many things but we struggle embedding them as habits and rituals in our daily lives. That’s where the rubber hits the road, as they say.
Jesus’ brother James understood this too. Almost 2,000 years ago he wrote a letter to people just like you and me living in the first century. This is what he said:
James 1:22-25. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. NLT
Eugene Peterson translates it this way in The Message Bible:
James 1:22-25. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. MB
So how do we bridge this ‘knowing-doing gap’? How do we make sure we are applying what we are learning? Only by intentionally choosing to put into practice what we know. Don’t deceive yourself by pursuing continual learning but without applying what you already know.
Here are 7 questions to help you bridge the knowing-doing gap:
- "What have I heard and/or learnt in the last few months that needs putting into practice?"
- "What new habit or ritual do I need to start … today? "
- "Where have I drifted that requires me to get back on track?"
- "What fear is holding me back?"
"What problem/issue am I facing that is simply a decision waiting to happen?" Remember, what we tolerate never changes! Tap into the power of desperation by refusing to tolerate the unacceptable.
"What discussion have I been a part of that now needs implementing?"
"What reminder could I benefit from reading every day?" Write it on a 'post it' note and put it on your bathroom mirror or make it your computer background image (I have my yearly goals as slides rotating as my computer screen-saver so I see them every day).
Then as Nike says … “Just Do It!”
That’s where authentic change and transformation takes place.