Welcome back. We’re here with more of our interview with Phill Nosworthy, multi-disciplined executive coach, global speaker and influential change-maker. Last time, he talked about closing the gap between skill and character. Today, we’ll focus on converging the next two gaps: knowledge and application; and identity and reputation.
Q: How did you discover a gap between knowledge and application?
You know it, and I know it; people have more information than they know what to do with.
Literally! We know so much. I mean imagine if we were the walking, talking embodiment of everything that we knew. We’d be extraordinary!But, unfortunately, we are not. We are defined by what we do with what we know. So - this is a pretty important gap to recognize and explore in business today. Often, we fall for simple traps here, like believing that knowledge is power. It isn’t. Knowledge is potential - application is power.
The other big trap, particularly in technology, is what I call the illusion of innovation - which is characterized by the acquisition of knowledge without any application. It’s really important to note that knowledge acquisition isn’t growth. In fact - knowledge acquisition without application is the most insidious form of procrastination in business life today. People are convinced they’re progressing, but all they're doing is taking in new information. They've convinced themselves they're smarter, but they're not. They just know more stuff.
Q: Why is closing this gap so critical?
Convergence between what we know and what we apply sits right at the heart of progress, personal satisfaction, and hard success. We know people really love work when they feel like they're better than they were last month, or that they're further along than they were a year ago. It gives them a sense of purpose, which has everything to do with application, not just acquisition.
We all know stuff that we don't apply, but simple questions can trigger better application, and unlock the growth that goes along with it. A daily question I encourage people to ask is, “What is one thing I know to do that I am not currently doing?”
I love this question because of its sheer, audacious simplicity ¾ it stops people from procrastinating and, instead, drives them forward quickly.
Q: How will closing the gap between knowledge and application make a difference – in the lives of our colleagues, our friends, ourselves?
It goes back to the thought that without application, everything is just in a hovering state of potential. For instance, if I truly practiced everything I already know about health, I'd live forever. If I practiced everything I know about financial responsibility, I'd never have to worry about money again. But there's a gap between what we know and what we're applying to our lives.
The fact is, I'm not defined by what I know. None of us are. People who went to elite universities, who attend off-sites and rack up information, can still be undesirable colleagues. People don't care what we know, they care about what we do with what we know.
One person might know a thousand things, but if they never practice it, what good is all that knowledge? Meanwhile, someone may only know 10 things, but if they're effectively putting those 10 things to use every day, they're the ones who are going to make a difference. The key thing they learn isn't what they learn – it's how to use what they've been taught.
What matters is being good at certain skills and being the person on the team who is capable of putting them into action. Don’t allow your skill to be the thing that makes you toxic.
Q: Let’s switch gears to the gap between identity and reputation.
Identity is who we see ourselves as. In truth, this can often be misinformed because identity is a very fluid idea.
Muhammad Ali said the person at 50 who was the same person at 20 has wasted 30 years of their life. We are, and should be, constantly evolving.
Reputation is who others say I am. It's their perception of me.
These two things have to converge if we are ever going to progress. As it is, we often encounter leaders who are convinced they're great, but their teams don't think so. And, most dangerously, we also have people who think they don’t have much to offer, when in fact they are wonderful, constructive and skillful people.
Q: So, how do we close that gap between identity and reputation?
The idea of how we bring this together is simple. Feedback gives us data on the perceptions of others. You don't have to talk to too many people to get it.
We've done a good job of institutionalizing this idea of receiving feedback. But we've done a terrible job of institutionalizing any process that helps people understand themselves.
Q: How can we improve our self-reflection skills?
Self-reflection is a critical skill. We need to be able to objectively look at ourselves, course correct and keep moving toward who we want to be.
Most people don't have a daily self-reflection strategy. Feedback without self-reflection is half of a data set. We know that data drives better decisions. So, self-reflection is often the missing piece of the puzzle for people in their careers.
Benjamin Franklin had three questions that I think serve us all well:
- What went well today?
- What didn't go well today?
- So, what will I do tomorrow
Those three questions, asked relentlessly, religiously and routinely, will drive performance far better than reading 52 books in a year. For most people, their own lived experience is what's going to teach them the most. We're all busy, but without setting aside a few minutes each day for self-reflection, we leave critical growth opportunities on the table.
If people pick up one or two things to improve a day, that’s progress.
Next time, we’ll look at how to close the final two gaps. Stay tuned for the rest of our interview with Phill Nosworthy. You can also look for his book CONVERGENCE which discusses the five essential gaps in business and life.
About the Author
Christian Homme is a Sr. Copywriter for Tech Data. In his role he creates and reviews content for Tech Data, their partners and their resellers. Prior to joining this position he has created content for a variety of industries including major retailers, government accounts and food-service companies.