How you acquire knowledge, and the ways in which you use the knowledge you gain, is often the single biggest variable linked to your likelihood for success. We have all heard the famous saying, knowledge is power, but how powerful is knowledge if we don’t actually use it? Finding sound, credible information is only the first step — putting that knowledge into action is what allows the process to come full circle, and maximum results to follow. Amazingly, when we isolate on just this one single dimension of human development we can see where some people acquire good information and use it, where others acquire similar information, yet stop shy of applying what they learned. By freezing here for a moment, we can make a strong case why some people excel to great results, while others remain static and fail to experience the results they desire.
Applying knowledge to life challenges
When we stop to learn something, but then simply pack away that information without applying it, it should be no surprise that there are few, if any, noticeable changes to discover. The “power” from knowledge comes in the application of what you learned, whether it’s changing a flat tire, learning a new way to do math, or using relaxation strategies to stay calm during pressure situations. Knowledge can be used to solve problems, reduce stress, and increase productivity, but again, knowledge must be used in order to accomplish these goals.
One potential pitfall to avoid when it comes to knowledge acquisition and application occurs when the knowledge gained appears to be too simplistic and basic, and the knowledge is disregarded for precisely those reasons. Put another way, we as humans sometimes long for a complex and detailed answer to our problems, and when something simple is offered, the idea is not even qualified because of its simplicity. Take the following examples for better clarity of this issue:
- A simple, and proven way to lose weight is to eat less food, and exercise more. While this approach will lead to weight loss, it’s a very straightforward answer that actually prevents it from being invaluable advice as people chase down more obscure, complex, calorie-counting, food blended, strange methods of losing weight. The allure of fad diets seems to beat the common sense of the tried and true approach, further compounding the issue, ironically.
- Athletes who struggle with anxiety are taught that deep breathing coupled with positive imagery can make a big impact on relaxation – this really works! Unfortunately, it is also very basic advice, and that’s where I think this strategy may lose its luster. Some athletes spend their entire career searching for a more novel approach, when the most effective answer is something they can learn to do in mere minutes.
Some of the best knowledge you will acquire over the course of your lifetime will ended up being basic, seemingly simple information. When I was in graduate school many years ago I first heard of the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid), a rule that states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated. Try out the KISS approach for yourself as you might be surprised at the results you experience by simply following through on good, sound ideas.