Doing What You Know

I heard this quote on the radio today…

“It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we don’t do what we know.”

There’s a lot of truth in that. The reason I sometimes struggle with being a good husband or a good father has little to do with knowledge. I know what to do. I just don’t always do it. That’s because doing it usually requires more effort, more time and more commitment.

The same is true with churches. The reason some churches thrive while others languish has little to do with knowledge. They know what to do. They just don’t always do it. That’s because doing it usually requires more effort, more time and more commitment.

The same is true with business. The reason some businesses achieve excellence while others remain average has little to do with knowledge. They know what to do. They just don’t always do it. That’s because doing it usually requires more effort, more time and more commitment.

Are you sensing a pattern here? When things aren’t going well it’s usually not due to a lack of knowledge, but a lack of implementation. We usually don’t need more information. We need more action! Yet almost all of our training, conferences, seminars, classes, sermons, books, etc., are geared to distribute information rather than inspire action. Granted, education is valuable but only when coupled with action.

I used to think about this whenever I attended business conferences. I’d sit in a room full of competitors listening to ideas about how to better market our products or improve our business. I’d think “This is great stuff, but what good is it if all my competitors get the same information? If everyone learns the same ‘secret of success’ then it’s not much of a secret.” But the secret wasn’t in the idea, the secret was in who would go home and actually implement the idea. The answer was very few.

I read somewhere that Peter Drucker said there are very few high achievers within any organization (maybe 10%). I think he’s right. I also think that there are very few high achieving organizations (be it schools, churches, businesses or non-profits). The reason? It’s not that we don’t know what to do, it’s that we don’t do what we know.

The Bible says that listening, but not doing “is like looking at your face in the mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.” (James 1:23-24 NLT). When you put like that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to seek knowledge, but never implement it. Yet how many times have I read a book, attended a conference, listened to a sermon or heard a great idea and then walked away, forgetting what I learned?

3 thoughts on “Doing What You Know

  1. Great blog entry! I always tell my students and players this quote,”If it was important to you, you would do it.” I think that is really simple but very tough to follow especially as a christian. We all know the difference between what is right and wrong, but we somehow tend to mess that up. Lou Holtz ( Notre Dame) another football coach has a great book called DO WHATS RIGHT. Great motto to live by. Just imagine if we and I am including myself here, would all live by that principle!Live for Him,Wes

  2. I forward your blog several times for others to read – this was no exception. A great book (business) on this same subject and one of my favorites is called Execution by Larry Bossidy.

  3. I like your thoughts and have believed this for years. Why don’t we do what we should? I think mostly for me the answer is tied up in my emotions. Maybe I’m too mad to wash the dishes for my wife. Maybe I don’t feel like balancing my check book. Maybe I’m down so I eat the pizza instead of the salad. I think conquering mental , and emotional wellness would go along way to curing this.

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