Do you remember learning how to drive? I bet there was a long process you went through before you got your license. It’s that process that matters. Let’s reminisce a moment and see what we can learn from this experience.
You probably started by observing your parents or others driving. Then you may have taken Driver’s Ed in school. You read the text book and the official driver’s manual for your state. You took your test for your learner’s permit. You watched videos in class. Then you actually got into the car with your instructor and started driving. You practiced driving in town and on the highway. You learned how to parallel park. Then you went to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) branch and took the written and driving tests to obtain your license.
What do you think would have happened if you went to the DMV and took the written and driving tests first before you ever picked up a manual or practiced driving? You probably wouldn’t have passed the tests and gotten your license.
That’s why studying and doing work are best when they’re brought together.
If you know anything about me, you know I’m passionate about the power of continuous learning. It is the most important thing you can do to accelerate your path to success. But in order to be successful, you can’t just acquire the knowledge and not do anything with it. You have to apply what you learn in your personal and professional lives.
Do the thing, and you shall have the power. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sure, you can attempt to learn everything you can about a particular topic, but if you don’t apply that knowledge in real life, you’re not going to really achieve what you set out to learn in the first place. For example, you could learn how to get more clients from reading a book or taking a workshop, but you have to actually DO SOMETHING–like make sales calls, send emails to potential customers or attend networking events—to get a sale. You can’t just wait and hope someone will come to you and want to buy what you’re selling. (Granted, that does happen sometimes, but if you want your business to really be successful, you have to take control and do something.)
It’s great to learn, but action is what makes learning valuable. There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” What that means is, you can’t make the journey just by learning everything there is to know about the journey. You have to actually take that first step on the journey.
We’ve all seen a baby learning to walk. First, the baby watches others crawling and walking. Then the baby starts rocking back and forth on all fours. Then the baby makes that first crawling motion, and pretty soon, he’s on the move, getting into everything. Then the baby learns to stand, holding on to furniture or someone’s hand. Finally, the baby takes his first step. That step turns into a few steps, and the next thing you know, the baby is off and running.
Everything you learn in life is like when you learned to crawl and walk. You gather the knowledge by observing and/or reading. Then you apply that knowledge by doing the actions you learned.
Knowledge without practice is useless, and practice without knowledge is dangerous. —Confucius
Sure, you can learn things for the sake of knowledge but when you put that knowledge into practice that’s when it becomes USEFUL knowledge. And you can try to do things without learning what you need to know first—but you may end up hurting yourself or others in the process. That’s why we really learn best by studying and then doing. The two things work best together.
Therefore, I challenge you: The next time you read a self-improvement or business-related book, watch a webinar, or attend a workshop—put what you learn into practice!