10 - APPLY THE POWER OF KNOWLEDGE
How to predict where you will be in 5 years
What will you be like in five years? Charlie Jones said, “You will be the same in five years as you are today, except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”
The message of this quote is powerful. Reading books is a critical way to gain knowledge! As is meeting and learning from people that can share knowledge and experience with you. You’ve probably heard the saying, Knowledge is Power. It is true. But, even more important is the application of knowledge. Applying knowledge can help you soar to great heights in your personal life, in your relationships, and at work. Lack of knowledge, or not applying knowledge, renders you defenseless against the forces of the external environment. In order to apply knowledge, you first have to acquire it.
A story is told of a young man who approached Socrates as he sat by a lake and told him he would do anything to gain the wisdom Socrates possessed. After a moment, Socrates stood up and motioned for the young man to follow him. He walked into the lake until he was waist deep in water. Then Socrates asked the young man what he really wanted. When the young man insisted that he wanted wisdom, Socrates pushed the young man’s head under the water. He struggled and finally surfaced, wondering what the philosopher was up to. Again, Socrates asked him what he wanted. The man responded, “Wisdom.” Again Socrates shoved his head under water.
He struggled longer before finally coming up for air. For the third time, Socrates asked the man what he really wanted. When he pushed his head under water this time, Socrates held it there for almost an entire minute. The man finally fought his way up, gasping for air. Socrates asked him in that moment: “What is it you want?” This time the man was honest. He said, “I want air!” Socrates smiled and responded, “When you want wisdom as much as you wanted that breath of air, you won’t need me, and you shall get it.” So it is with knowledge. When a person hungers and thirsts for knowledge as much as they want air, they will get it.
In the spirit of this story, one of the most powerful ways to acquire knowledge is to READ A BOOK A MONTH. I’m talking about a book that teaches a new skill, is motivating, or helps you learn something that can be applied to life. For example, if you’re in sales, you could read a book a month on how to improve sales. People who do this are nearly guaranteed TREMENDOUS growth in their personal and professional lives!
1. In a group, have each person discuss an influential book in their life and share ONE lesson from that book that applies to your organization or team. If you work alone, try sharing lessons learned with a partner or friend.
2. Have your team members each read a book this month that applies to their position and share two or three lessons learned at the end of the month. For example, if you’re in sales, it would be a book on how to increase sales. If you’re in customer service, it would be a book on how to improve the customer experience. The shared lessons learned should be things you can apply to your personal lives or throughout the organization.
3. Identify a book you can start reading this week that could have a big impact on you. Invest in that book today and then commit to read for a certain number of minutes each day.
What are your threats?
It is critical to know about your external environment. The external environment is everything that is happening outside your immediate surroundings. It can include both threats and opportunities to you individually and to the organizations you are associated with.
It is important to remember that what was good enough for yesterday simply is not good enough for tomorrow. Change is always happening. Just think about how different the world is today than it was five years ago. You’ve seen the change cycle take place numerous times as economies have gone up and down. Bull markets have become bear markets. In 2008, the economic bubble burst. Housing prices dropped rapidly; entire industries were crushed in what seemed like overnight. Millions lost their homes and their jobs. Organizations that were at the top of their game were either scaled back significantly or simply disappeared altogether. Virtually everyone was affected one way or another.
So, what can you do? Rather than just “hope for the best”, you can do what we call an External Environment Analysis.
1. Draw a large circle. You are on the inside of the circle (your internal world); the external environment is everything outside the circle that is coming in at you. At the top of the page, write your focus; it could be something like personal, relationships, professional, organizational, community, or country.
2. Now look outward to the external environment and note things that are “incoming.” Ask yourself, “What do I see?” Just let the ideas flow and record your observations as quickly as you can. Spend part of your time looking for threats or dangers. Spend the rest of your time looking for opportunities.
3. Prioritize and rank your observations by biggest threat and largest opportunity. Then develop a plan to prepare against the threats and take advantage of the opportunities.
You’ll be amazed at the power of this simple exercise. It could make all the difference in the world for your future!
1. Conduct an External Environment Analysis. Choose a time and schedule when you’ll do this.
2. Develop a plan. This should be a plan which helps you prepare for and mitigate the threats and take advantage of the opportunities.
A great way to get smarter.
When you apply the power of knowledge, it can help you excel in life and become your best. In order to apply knowledge, you first have to acquire it! People tend to respect knowledge. The more knowledge you have the more influence you will likely have. You probably know a person who gives advice which nearly everyone follows. You also probably know a person who gives advice and everyone ignores it. A key difference is how “knowledgeable” that person is and their background. People are more likely to respect you if you are “knowledgeable.”
So, how can you gain greater knowledge? Think of knowledge as a seed. What happens to a seed if you leave it in dry, arid soil? What about if you plant it in moist dirt? The seed is much more likely to grow if it is planted in a fertile location and nurtured carefully. Your knowledge is like a seed.
You “water” your seed of knowledge through continual learning and gaining useful experience.
In our trainings, we teach that you be the same today as you will be in five years, except for two things, the books you read and the people you meet.” That’s a powerful statement! Consider the inspirational books you’ve read in the past, what did you learn from them? A quick way to grow knowledge is to tap into a lifetime of research or learning from someone else, which you can do by reading books, attending continuing education courses, and finding mentors.
1. Read, read, read! Reading is vital if you want to expand your knowledge. New literature will grow your seed of knowledge. Choose a book today that will teach you, inspire you, or help you improve in a particular area. Set a date when you want to finish the book.
2. Learn more about your job. To become the best at what you do, you should stay current and continuously learn how to do your job better. Enroll in a related continuing education class, listen or watch training seminars, or find relevant research online.
Which Doctor is best?
Which doctor would you choose? The one familiar with the latest breakthroughs in his field and in an office full of the latest technology, or the one using medical practices from the 1960’s and in an office void of any modern technology or equipment?
Surely you’d choose a doctor using the latest and most up to date techniques. There has been so much change and innovation since 1960 that a doctor not up-to-date is essentially obsolete. This same principle applies across industries and all fields of employment. The world is changing faster than ever before, and to avoid looking Neanderthal, it is important to keep up with the latest developments in your field and your industry.
Did you know the average American watches 34 hours of TV per week? Whoa! That’s the equivalent of a part time job! A recent paper published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine claimed that for every hour spent glued to the screen, a person’s lifespan is decreased by 21.8 minutes on average. On the other hand, people who read are more likely to succeed, according to researchers. No matter your age or position, frequently reading books relevant to your occupation and field will keep you educated, informed, and sharp-minded. Thus, we suggest that you read at least 1 book per month. Convert activities such as watching TV to reading books. It will help you gain useful knowledge that will give you a leading edge. We have witnessed multiple influential people attribute their success to this goal. That is certainly the truth in my life.
It was also the case with Ben Carson. As a boy, he was angry, poor, frustrated, and living in a tough neighborhood. His mother, Sonya, searched for an answer. She told Ben and his brother to turn off the TV and start reading books. Two books per week in fact! Reading changed their lives and helped them become among the smartest children in school.
Dr. Carson eventually became a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. He saved many lives and is changing many more lives everyday through the Carson Scholars Fund. This fund has helped establish 85 Ben Carson Reading rooms in 12 states. Ben Carson is one of those individuals who attributes his success to gaining knowledge through reading.
1. Make a list of books relevant to your work or field. Read one of these books every month. Write down key take-aways in your thoughts journal.