Knowing and Doing

Dan Pink is one of my favorite writers. To Sell Is Human should be required reading, especially for non-salespeople who have to sell. His book Drive should be required reading for leaders and managers.

I love Malcolm Gladwell, too. Like Pink, he is a tremendous writer and storyteller. The Tipping Point should be required reading for entrepreneurs and marketers. Blink should be required reading for salespeople. And Outliers should be read by all success-minded people.

Both Pink and Gladwell are intellectuals. They both intellectualize the topics about which they write. You can learn a lot by reading them. But you can’t learn what you need to learn to be successful by reading intellectualized accounts of any subject.

I have never played tennis, nor have I ever been on skis. I have never hit a tennis ball over a net, and I have never once made my way down the side of a mountain or a hill on two slick pieces of plastic. I could right now read a dozen books on tennis or skiing and still be completely unable to play tennis or ski better than I could by taking a couple of lessons. But having taken some lessons and spending some time on a tennis court or a hill, reading could help me understand my experience and how to improve it.

You produce the best results in areas you are working to improve by coupling your experiential learning with your intellectual learning.

If you read any good book on investing, that book will surely tell you that you must not be emotional about the investments you make. When you start losing in a position, you sell that position and protect yourself from losses. But you won’t know what it feels like to sell a stock that is down 10% when it is being hyped on television and when other people are building their position.

You can read a good book on selling, and you will almost invariably find something about closing, or asking for commitments. You can read the words, you can understand the script, but until you ask a prospective client sitting across from you to sign an agreement, you won’t have any idea what that experience feels like (especially when they refuse to sign).

You can read books about success and personal development, all of which have valuable messages and even more valuable guides to the actions you must take in order to succeed. But reading about personal development and success won’t make you successful. Only taking action will. (But if you take in enough success-oriented content, I promise you will start to take action.)

There is a difference between an intellectual understanding of a subject and actually knowing the subject matter. Knowing something alone doesn’t produce any measurable results. Knowing something, having some chops, only works if you couple it with action (and if it’s something important to you, massive action). You will learn much of what you need to be successful by doing.

You know enough already. But are you taking enough action?

Filed under: Activity, Sales 3.0, Success Mindset, Values

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