Exercise Your Knowledge to Develop Strong Habits

We have opportunities to access information like never before. No matter what topic, just type in a few search terms in Google and you have a wealth of resources. However, I have noticed that it’s challenging to turn this knowledge into practical success.

After all, anyone can get the information because it’s so readily available. Very few are able to turn their knowledge into something truly significant.

I can read a book or website about exercise. That’s great. But it’s not until I do some “heavy lifting” that I can achieve the objectives of exercise. Learning about exercise is not the same as doing it.

Similarly, I can read great books on leadership. Or I can find resources on sales and negotiation. But unless I find creative ways to put my knowledge into practice systematically, I see only minor changes and successes.

This is because of the principle of inertia. My habits of thought and behavior kick in, and unless I take control of changing my habits, my development only will happen sporadically and randomly. Sometimes the development will be for the better — after all, I will learn and grow through new situations and experiences. Sometimes the development could be for the worse if I allow my skills and knowledge to get “rusty.”

The way to achieve success is to balance attaining knowledge with practical application. Do this systematically and incrementally. Build small pieces at a time.

Here is an example: I once went to a four-day training course that was designed to teach a specific skill set. I thought I knew something about the subject matter, but I found out that much of my time initially had to be spent unlearning bad habits that I had developed.

I found that I gained a reasonable grasp of the “basics” relatively quickly, but this only came through intense repetition. Before I was an “expert” at these “basics,” I had to move on to more advanced concepts and techniques. In the process I kept ingraining and reinforcing the “basics” that I learned.

At the end of four days I was amazed at my level of proficiency due to the knowledge-based training (lectures and demonstrations), as well as much practical hands-on, real life experience.

We shortchange ourselves when we do not find ways to put our learning into practice. One effective strategy for securing knowledge retention is to lecture to a wall. That’s right, make sure you understand the concept so thoroughly that you can articulate it coherently, even if no one else is listening. Another effective strategy is to write. While you’re at it, you might as well share what you are learning and writing online with a blog.

Beyond explaining what you know, you have to practice it. This requires creativity. But start small, and build more advanced concepts upon your grasp of the basics. Be systematic about this, and do a little bit each day. If you set yourself on the right trajectory and stick with it you will be amazed at the long-term results.