Monday, March 17, 2014

Much aKnow, but Do nothing

The Information Age. Knowledge at our fingertips. Answers are just one Google search away. Big Data – measured in zettabytes and yottabytes, giving all kinds of information and analyses ! This is the age of “Everything you ever wanted to know about Everything, and didn’t know who to ask”

Want to lose weight?
Hundreds of websites / books / magazines will give you information on how to lose weight. Having read most of this, many of us still suffer from obesity!

Want to learn how to manage anger?
Training programs, meditation techniques, stress management workshops are aplenty. Even after going through all these and learning all about anger, many of us still struggle to control that unbearable urge to let someone “have it” from us! Weight loss, anger management are just two typical examples of what many of us struggle with in our daily lives. There are others – procrastination, laziness, shopping binges to name a few.

Is this a new affliction or is it as old as mankind itself?
Knowing something in terms of possessing the required knowledge or cognition about it, and yet not doing it! Not making it a reality in our lives! I like to call it “Much aKnow, but Do nothing”. I think it’s as old as mankind itself, and I also have a hunch that it is an affliction which is partial to the “Knowledgables”.

Image courtesy of khunapix /


(image courtesy of khunapix /

Uh-umm, now who are these Knowledgables? The Knowledgables are a sub-species of homo sapiens blessed with great intellectual horsepower. This horsepower includes the ability to gulp and digest large and complex mounds of information, or the ability to verbatim regurgitate the sonnets of Shakespeare, alongside the proper recitation of Sanskrit shlokas. The ignorant are free from the curse of this affliction, simply because their ignorance immunizes them against it. They can always be forgiven for not KNOWing what to do. Since they don’t know what to do, they can’t be expected to do it!

Picture this conversation
Ms. Gyan Devi : Oh, I just read this amazing book on positive thinking. It talked about the body-mind connection, and how physical exercise lifts up our moods, and releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Isn’t it interesting? We must exercise!

Mr. Sabjaanta Sharma: Yes, I already know that, in fact there are some scientists working on this, who have proved that we can even delay our ageing process by exercising. I am also planning to start exercising.
One month later – Gyan Devi and Sabjaanta are sitting together at the office cafeteria gorging on double cheese pizza, with an extra large banana milkshake to lubricate the ride of the pizza down the oesophagus. They are talking about how work pressure and tight deadlines leave no time and energy for exercise. They bemoan their circumstances, and how everything is beyond their control. The only choice they have is to give up the thought of exercising.

The Mirror
Did we just see a mirror? Is there a Gyan Devi and Sabjaanta inside us? The one who says “Ah! I already know It” yet, can’t DO It. Like I said, this affliction is as old as mankind itself. It’s simply become more starkly visible, and increasingly paradoxical in this Information Age. So, the big question is how to convert knowledge to action and make it a reality?

Screw it, just Do it
Sadly, there is no magic bullet, no secret sauce. It’s as simple as Sir Richard Branson says “Screw it, just do it”.  There is however a way of learning to train your mind. For this, you first need to understand that you are separate from your mind. This means that you can channelize your mind in the right direction, and so YOU are the Boss and not your mind.

We underestimate the power of our surroundings on us. Change your surroundings to change your mental processes. This is not to undermine the importance of self-discipline and will power. Those are necessary, and nothing will happen without them. Changing your surroundings is like giving a booster shot to your self-discipline and will power.

Feed the mind visually – Find inspirational pictures of people who have overcome obstacles in life, or have had achievements in areas that you are looking to achieve in – athletics / academics / business / innovation / fitness etc. Looking at their photos at the start of your day is a great way to inspire yourself to follow in their footsteps.

Start small – Make a small promise to yourself. Keep it, come what may. Your confidence in your own self increases. Often times we bite more than we can chew, meaning trying to do too much , too soon. That is a sure recipe for disaster. Crawl, walk and run is usually a good way to start on a change program. Appreciate yourself for the achievements that you make, it increases your self esteem.

Find a support group - Surround yourself with “Can do” people. We are the average of the 5 people we spend the maximum time with. So pick your friends wisely. They could be people who have similar goals as you, or are people who are positive and upbeat and can inspire you!

De-clutterDecide the 1 or 2 things that will exponentially enhance the quality of your life, and focus on them. Our mind can concentrate only a few things at a time, so don’t create a laundry list for your life change program. For a year, decide one or maximum two priorities that you will focus on – exercising / specific relationships (parents / kids / significant others etc.) / hobbies etc.

Review progressReview your progress quarterly on your priorities. Make required course corrections, and KEEP MOVING. You will slowly, but surely begin to take the LEAP from KNOWING to DOING!

Good Luck!