Turning food into energy and the nutrients needed for health takes a comprehensive and complex digestive system.
Turning knowledge into action requires no less of a system. The system that enables us to improve performance starts with knowledge but knowledge is the easiest part of the equation, necessary but not sufficient. Derek Sivers, the brilliant entrepreneur and founder of CD baby quipped, ‘if knowledge were sufficient, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs’. Something is missing; food is useless without digestion and knowledge is not different.
Digesting knowledge is not a passive process, it’s active, a method and a process to make sense, to see and build connections, to synthesize something new out of diverse inputs. It is the absence of this reflection which so often diminishes experience – a commodity we tend to esteem too highly, in the absence of important caveats.
‘People who say they have 30-years experience generally mean that they one year's experience 30 times over’ Abraham Lincoln
1-years experience thirty times over, because I never digested and made sense of all the knowledge. US General Mattis in his recent book noted that 'In our military, lack of time to reflect is the single biggest deficiency in senior decision-makers'.
Many things in life can be learnt but can’t be taught. Leadership is a great example of that – nobody can teach you to be a leader but you can learn it. You learn it by reflecting on your experience and the experience of others in order to make a deeper personal sense of connection and understanding, that is uniquely your own. Knowledge turns to action, which with intention, feedback and reflection begins a virtuous circle. Now you have begun the pursuit of excellence.