Eureka! Discovering vs. Knowing

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Knowing things has become overrated in the information age. If you don’t know something, you can just Google it, right? Despite that, we tend to be addicted to knowing because we think that it is important to know. However, discovering something for yourself takes you beyond knowing and allows for a higher level of performance. Discovering something for yourself allows you to excel, grow, and perform whereas knowing just allows you to survive but not grow.

What Does It Take To Discover?

It doesn’t have to be life threatening but it is life-altering. I have a friend who had a serious heart attack several years ago. He discovered through this experience something he already knew but on which he was taking no action. Since that health scare, he has gotten up every morning to work out and make his heart healthy. Do we have to have a scare like that to discover something for ourselves? No. But it takes intellectual effort to pull discovery vs. just knowledge to ourselves. Most of what we know, we did not discover for ourselves. Most of what we know is received knowledge, or conclusions or decisions we have made from something we learn.

So Why Won’t People Do What They Know To Do?

At work we typically get information and instructions on what to do. Seems like when we get information like this, that would be all you need. But often we don’t produce what was intended or we don’t get a concept in a way that moves us to action. For example, consider an organization creating a whole new future for their organization to work from and cultivate an updated, empowered culture. But if the leaders simply communicate it to the employees or give them a workshop that teaches some of the behaviors they want to see in that new future, and leave it at that, it will not stick. The communication and learning will soon be forgotten or people will only know the future statement and intended culture but will not act to bring it to life. The leaders and the employees have to take on the idea of discovering for themselves how that culture fits for them and what it will look like in their day-to-day work. It is hard work to do that thinking and to practice.

Remember when you learned to drive? You had to know many concepts including the rules of driving, studying it in a book, working on a simulator, driving with an instructor, practicing, getting a learner’s permit, practicing some more, getting a beginner’s license. If you have ever been with someone when they are learning to drive, but they have not yet discovered it for themselves, it can be scary for them…and for you!

Give up Knowing, Take on Discovering

Have you ever noticed the experience that comes with discovering something? It is a moment of jubilation and surprise, often even physical in nature (I get antsy or anxious on the working-to-discover side of things and I tend to laugh out loud or get the chills on the discovery side of things.) Juxtapose that experience with someone telling you something and you say “Yeah, I know that, or I get that concept.” It is kind of bland…and often the information easily disappears from your memory.

When you discover something for yourself, what you discover becomes part of who you are and what you do…naturally. You don’t need instructions or reminders to do it, you OWN it and can do it with confidence. As a result, you have more access and power to perform and deliver on your intentions.

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