I love learning! Like most people reading this blog, I consider myself a life-long learner and enjoy the process of learning new ideas and skills. At the end of every year, I want to be able to look back and say that I know more now than I did last year at this time. Life is more exciting and fulfilling when I’m continuously learning. What’s not to love about learning? Well…
Whenever we decide to embark on a new undertaking, one of the first things we do is learn as much as we can about our new adventure. That makes sense, right? Any time we pursue something new we need to gain knowledge to identify the path we need to take in order to get started. At the very beginning, learning is a crucial step. The problem occurs when we have gained sufficient knowledge to get stated and instead opt to postpone action in order to pursue additional learning.
I look at learning like putting gas in a car before a cross country road trip. Before hitting the road we drive to the gas station and fill the car with gas. Once the tank is full, we’re ready to embark on our trip. Do we have enough gas for the whole trip? No. Will we need to acquire more gas along the way? Of course. Do we have enough gas to begin our journey right now? You bet!
Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to sit at the gas station after filling the car and think, “You know, I should get another gallon of gas and carry it in the trunk, just in case.” Imagine doing that and then thinking, “I should probably fill up another couple of gas cans to have because I don’t know what I may encounter along the way.” Suppose this train of thought played out multiple times. At the very least, our trip would be significantly delayed. At worst, we’d never embark on the journey we’d planned.
The answer: Hang up the pump, put the car in Drive, and get moving!
Likewise, continual learning in place of action, when we already have the knowledge we need to get started, can thwart our efforts to move ahead.
So what keeps us from taking the knowledge we’ve acquired and putting it into action? Why do we get stuck in the mode of, “Ready… Aim… Aim… Aim…” without ever getting to “FIRE!”? There could be several reasons such as:
- Fear of the unknown.
- Getting outside our comfort zone.
- Lack of commitment to our goal.
- Self doubt or discouragement from our own negative self talk or from others.
- The thought that learning is less threatening than taking action and risking failure.
When you notice that you’re postponing action in favor of more learning, take a moment to ask “Why?” Ask this question until you get to the root cause that’s keeping you from that first step. Once you discover the “why”, acknowledge it, commit to taking the first step, and then do it.
I heard a great quote recently that says,
“Too much learning and not enough doing will turn you into an over-educated under-achiever.”
I don’t want to be like that. I want to learn with the intent of putting that learning into action to make life better for myself and for others. Yes, we need to be continuous learners, but not at the expense of taking action. Once you’ve gained enough knowledge to take that initial step, get started! Move ahead as far as you can. When you get to the point where you need more knowledge, pull up to the “gas pump” of learning, “gas up” for the next leg of your journey, and then continue on.
Cause something to happen by putting your learning into action. Put your dreams in Drive and get moving. You’ll always be able to “gas up” along the way.