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Knowing Isn't Doing

Somewhere Only We KnowImage by P.J.M. *extremely slow on flickr :( sorry* via Flickr

How many books have you read giving you the knowledge you need to do something, but you haven't done it? How many seminars have you attended, giving you the skills you need to make a change in your behavior, but you haven't changed? Knowing isn't doing.

I bet, as a leader, you know the importance of praising positive performance. And even though you notice instances when praise is warranted, you don't always do it. Knowing isn't doing.

In your personal life, you know how important it is -- if you want to lose weight or just be healthy -- to not snack after dinner. Yet, how often do you find yourself at the refrigerator at 9 p.m., searching for a little something to satisfy your sweet tooth? Knowing isn't doing.

Think about John Lancaster. In 1601, John Lancaster figured out on his first East India Company trading voyage from London to the East Indies that if he regularly gave his sailors lemon juice, he could keep them from dying of scurvy. Do you think his news was eagerly embraced by other trading company captains and scurvy was then eliminated? No. It was centuries before knowing became doing, and lemons and limes made scurvy a scourge of the past.

Or, think about Ethna Reid, founder of the Exemplary Center for Reading Instruction (ECRI) in Salt Lake. Her decades of research have proven what the best teachers do in their classrooms that raise students' performance scores 2 or 3 grade levels in a year. We know, but do we do? No. Low-performing schools all over the country still struggle to improve student test scores.

Good ideas (knowing) aren't necessarily adopted (done).

Q. What's one thing you know you need to do, or need to do differently? As a leader? With your team? For your organization?

Q. What's it going to take to actually follow through and start doing? Whose support do you need? Who do you need to tell about your decision to take action? How will you hold yourself accountable to continue the "doing" when the going gets tough?

Walter Bagehot said, "One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea." I'm not sure I totally agree with that. I think we love ideas; we love the "knowing." It's the "doing" that we hate, the changing. I challenge you to pick one thing that you know and do it until it becomes your new norm.

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