We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
Centuries of academic emphasis on “teaching” (which fills our heads) instead of on learning (which fills our lives) has left us more proud of our ability to reason than of our ability to know. Knowing flows from learning, which goes to our heart and our life. Reason flows from teaching, which goes to our head.
We’re taught not to know, to not be certain of anything. Knowing is, in fact considered narrow-minded, arrogant, and dangerous. Reasoning is considered open-minded and allows us to fool ourselves into doing nothing for extended periods of time because we are “thinking about it”. Intuition is considered foolish, dangerous, reckless and knee-jerk, while rationality is considered wise, safe, sensible and measured. Apparently one of the greatest thinkers in modern times, Einstein disagrees. So do I, and I’m no Einstein.
The ancient Greeks had two words for knowledge; Gnosis – knowledge of the head, and Epignosis – knowledge of the heart/life. A friend of mine, Doug Root, had a conversation with someone recently who rewound the well worn tape, “Knowledge is power”, which really means “head knowledge is power”. Doug’s intuitive response was dead on, “That can’t be true, because if knowledge was power, librarians would rule the world. Knowledge isn’t power, execution is power.”
Teaching comes in a classroom from books and much too often, from people who have experienced very little of what they are filling other’s heads with. Teaching is about information that goes into my head.
Learning comes from doing, from the classroom of life, and from people who have walked that road before you. Learning is about knowledge that comes out through my life. Knowledge of the heart and life comes from intuitive and conative experience (see last week’s blog on Conation – The Most Important Business Word You’ve Never Heard), and forms the basis for wisdom. Knowledge of the head comes from cognative and rational teaching, and forms the basis for expertise.
Which would you rather have help you with your business, someone with expertise or someone with wisdom? I want the guy who has lived it, bled from their mistakes, rejoiced in their victories and has truly “learned”, not just been educated.
With all the emphasis on teaching, education, reason, rational thought, information and “open-mindedness”, I can tell you as someone who has walked the road and bled from my mistakes, if you want a successful business, you can’t afford to rely on the rational mind. You must DO things first (conate), learn things in the real world (make mistakes), draw conclusions from your experiences (have a bad plan you are totally committed to), and know for certain what works and where you are going – which is knowledge of the heart/life.
The really successful business owners all have a few things they know for certain and are fully committed to. They aren’t open-minded about these things at all, and that knowledge comes out in their successful businesses, not in a 3” binder gathering dust beside their “shelf-help” books.
What do you really “KNOW”; what have you DONE, EXPERIENCED, AND LEARNED from that are making you wise in the ways of business?
Stop trying to become an expert. Expertise will only confuse you, because there is no end to the head-knowledge you could gather. And in the business world, confusion is just a form of victimology; “As long as I’m confused or don’t have all the information, I’m not responsible to do anything.” The endless pursuit of information will not get you there.
You don’t need to be dead certain of a lot of things. That mindset can keep you from learning other things you’ll need to know. But you do need to be dead certain of a few things that no one can talk you out of, that drive your business forward with clarity, hope and risk.
Where is your business going? What does it look like when you get there? Intuitively, what do the next few steps look like? Are you completely and totally committed to a very few things that are driving you relentlessly forward? He who aims at nothing hits it every time. What are you shooting at?
“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hover
Learn a few things by doing them and living them out and use them to build a successful business. Honor the gift by moving forward intuitively and use the servant of rationality to learn from those experiences. You’ll make more money in less time.