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The Knowledge Trap

The trouble with “Knowledge Is Power”

Scientia potentia est” is a Latin aphorism meaning “knowledge is power”.

It’s commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon.

It was written for the first time in the 1668 version of the work Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, who was the secretary to Bacon as a young man.

But ‘knowledge is power’ is misleading.

There is more knowledge, information, and ideas to make life better than ever before, but millions of people are still not better off with everything we know as humans.

There is more than enough knowledge in this world to change our circumstances, but so many of those who have it — don’t act.

Some people have knowledge, but don’t have the power to use it. Others have power but won’t act on all the knowledge they know or have been given.

Others have both knowledge and power but just won’t take action even though they know their lives would be better if they acted on that information.

When you choose not to exercise, eat healthily, take breaks to prevent burnout, or embrace habits that will help you live better, you don’t wonder what you need to do.

You already know what to do.

Chris Griffiths, director of fine tune consulting, explains:

The entire weight loss industry benefits from the difference between knowledge and action. When I see myself carrying around a few extra pounds, I don’t wonder what I need to do. I already know what to do. I need to exercise more, eat a healthier diet, drink more water and get ample rest. But making these key adjustments in my life…well, that’s another story. I don’t need a personal trainer to get to the root cause of my weight gain; I need to step outside of myself and imagine what a personal trainer would recommend as a safe and proactive way to make a difference and start doing that.

Everyone knows deep down that they need to eat a little better, move a little more, save a bit more for pension, etc. They just don’t act on that knowledge.

There are so many barriers to acting argues David Gurteen. You can have the right knowledge at the right time to make thing things better but:

  • ignore it
  • not accept it as true
  • not understand it
  • be biased against it
  • not appreciate its relevance
  • be too busy to act on it
  • not have the confidence or courage to act on it
  • not have the political skills to influence or persuade senior management to take you seriously
  • not have the budget or other resources to put the knowledge into action
  • not have the leadership skills to act
  • not have the collaborative skills to work with other people

Today, it’s more common people to have knowledge and not take action, at which point, knowledge is useless.

Taking action, and making key habit changes will always be the problem

“Find your path and take action. The best-laid plans are just that: plans. It’s the action that will make all the difference,” says Griffiths.

You have what you need to make a difference in your life but you refuse to act.

It’s not about knowing what to do, it is about doing what you already know needs to be done.

The difference between knowledge and action is your mindset. Making a change is ultimately up to you to apply action.

Knowledge is not necessarily power. Action is the key. Application of the right knowledge is everything.

Understanding how and when to apply knowledge is wisdom!

The kind of wisdom we need to make the most of life.

Putting knowledge to work is the hardest part.

As Thomas Edison once said, “If we did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

That’s profound and so true.

Why have we consistently fallen somewhat short of astounding ourselves?

That’s one of the biggest dilemmas of human progress.

“Why can we — people or society — do some of the things that we set out to accomplish, and not others?” asked Professor Sarewitz.

Why is it that the overwhelming majority of human beings never live up to their full potential despite everything we know?

And what would your life look like if you applied the knowledge you have to your life and career?

Power shouldn’t be an excuse, because we are more in control of our lives than we think.

Knowledge is the state of awareness or understanding gained from experience or study. Everyone has some kind of knowledge about something that can be used to upgrade their lives or make someone else’s better.

There are three kinds of knowledge, according to Philosophers. Gregg Henriques PhD explains:

Philosophers often divide knowledge up into three broad domains: personal, procedural, and propositional. Personal knowledge relates to firsthand experience, idiosyncratic preferences, and autobiographical facts. Procedural knowledge refers to knowledge how to do something, such as how to play basketball or ride a bike. Propositional knowledge refers to general truth claims about the world and how we know it.

All forms of learning sharpen the seeker’s ability to make informed choices. Knowledge changes how you understand the world, and how reactive you might be to it.

Most people are consistently seeking procedural knowledge to help them get things done or achieve personal goals.

The unfortunate truth is that millions of people are more interested in knowing, instead of acting. They pursue knowledge for knowledge sake and, store this knowledge like books on a shelf.

They are held back from achieving their potential, not by a lack of ideas, but by inaction or lack of consistent execution.

In that sense, unused knowledge is like that which sits in books in libraries. Full of potential power waiting to be acted upon.

Only a few people are benefitting fully from their knowledge.

Smart people don’t necessarily have all the knowledge. They surround themselves with other people who are smarter than them to help them make insightful choices.

They are able to make intelligent decisions based on their understanding and awareness of everyday situations with the help of others.

We cannot perform effectively without knowledge. Knowledge is very much a necessity to succeed in life, but without application, it won’t do you any good.

Achieving your true potential isn’t about dreaming big; it’s about executing on the knowledge you have. By all means, dream big, but the most important step is action.

Consistent application of the right knowledge at the right time will improve results significantly. Focusing on execution simply works.

Knowledge is power only when you truly understand and apply it. Knowledge is power only when it changes your life.

“All the reading you do will only have entertainment value if it does not change your behaviour and the way you think. Understanding something brings this change in the way you think and behave, where as merely knowing something makes no difference to your life,” writes Ofpad.

We spend so much time, money and energy acquiring knowledge without using it. To truly benefit from what you learn, you must apply it to your circumstances.

Ans you don’t even need to know everything to take action, but you need to be taking action to benefit from knowledge.

Closing thoughts

Conclusion

“Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.”― Dale Carnegie

Knowledge is abundant, accessible, and even portable.

But it is no longer power.

The new power is wisdom; the application of knowledge. The ability to make act on information to generate the best results and outcomes.

Don’t just acquire and keep knowledge, use it to your benefit or provide value for others. You will be surprised at the results.

Personal Growth

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Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder at AllTopStartups | Author | Creator of Thinking in Models and Kaizen Habits | Featured at Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc.

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.