This theory differentiates between the two in terms of performance, knowing is classified as a low performing characteristic whereas learning is high performing.
We all have a tendency to walk through life with an idea of how things should be done, this may be through knowledge we have acquired about a topic or just personal beliefs, either way if we see anything that conflicts with this internal image our natural reaction is to suggest, or more likely lecture, the other person on how it should really be done. We may think this is us being helpful but in reality we are taking a position of knowing and by doing this we are unable to learn anything.
In the realm of domestic chores or other day to day activities this may not be particularly catastrophic but when we step into the worlds of business, education, or sport the stakes are raised. In fast moving fields you have to stay relevant to succeed. What you know now may be a winning formula but if you stay in that knowing state, clinging to your static picture of how things should be, you will quickly become irrelevant and get left behind.
We all have to realise that we view the world through a very narrow, personal lens. What may work for us might not work for others. We have to remove our ego, which always wants to be right, from the equation and realise that by doing this we are opening ourselves up to huge learning opportunities. Any time that you say ‘I know’ you are preventing yourself from learning and developing.
When it comes to coaching or teaching the application of this may seem harder yet you just have to look at whether you are asking more than telling. Are you trying to understand where the students are coming from, their ‘why’, and then helping guide them through the learning process or are you just reciting your own methods? By leading rather than dictating you are helping pass on skills but also remaining open to new methods yourself.
A sure fire way to tell whether you are in a state of learning vs a state of knowing is by how comfortable you feel. Dropping the ego and opening yourself up to knowledge can feel uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable you are developing. The old adage that nothing grows in your comfort zone is very true, escape it.
Never assuming expert status and constantly staying open to learning may sound an exhausting, never ending process and seem quite daunting, this may be true but you can easily reframe it to find the positives. Waking up every day with the opportunity to learn something new about a topic you love is a great joy, life would quickly become boring if you had learnt all there was to know. Rather than viewing the drive to mastery as a slog to an end point view it as a journey and enjoy the process.
I hope this post has helped you change the way you think about learning and helped open you up to new ways of thinking. Wake up every morning and ask ‘what can I learn today’. Remove your ego from the equation, observe rather than judging. I promise that this simple process will be a great vehicle for accelerating your success across many aspects of your life.
If this theory has interested you have a listen to more on it from this excellent episode of the Barbell Shrugged Podcast which you can check out here.
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