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« Watching the river | Main | The Escape Plan »

January 19, 2006


Dick Richards

Curt -- this post made me stop and think, because I am not sure that I agree wholeheartedly with Lofholm -- at least not for me. I'm also not sure if the quote means "What you know" or, as you morphed it, "What you know you need to do" -- two different things.

The reason that I have a problem with the quote is that what I know about myeslf is that I need continual learning and easily get bored just "doing what I know." I can only do what I know how to do for relatively brief periods.

Maybe I ought to go listen to the broadcast, because I have already used the term "what I know" in about 4 different ways here and am not sure what he means by that.

Curt Rosengren

Dick, I think your disagreement with Lofholm is probably less a function of what he said and more a function of a lack of clarity on my part.

The basic idea is this. We DO know a lot more than we think. Especially if we have been reading how-to, self-help, etc. books. We voraciously devour tips and pointers, don't really put them into action, and then move on to the next thing that is going to give us "the answer."

So if you already know it, then DO it.

At the end of the day, knowing the answer doesn't mean squat if you don't do anything with it.

Are there opportunities to learn more along the way? Of course. Can we get more insights that help things make more sense? Yup.

But for many the quest for more knowledge about what to do, how to do it, how to think about it, etc. has a tendency to become the end result itself, rather than a means to an end.

The quest for learning and understanding, while definitely an important piece of the puzzle, shouldn't come at the expense of actually DOING.


This is great! I have been reading your blog for awhile - and this one rings so true (as many of your ideas do). I am guilty of reading Runner's World and not running - It inspires me but...I gotta make it happen - same is true with diet - I know i need to eat more fish and greens - I read up on it - etc...Need to do it! Action Action Action! otherwise its all in my head!
THANK YOU for reminding me...again.


There's a similar line of thought for writers: Write what you know. And a contrasting opinion: Write what you want to read.

I suspect the same thing may apply to "Do what you know". Do what you want to know.

You probably know lots of things that you don't want to do. (Bad habits are at the top of this list.)

Dick Richards

Curt - thanks for clearing that up.

THIS I definitely agree with -- "At the end of the day, knowing the answer doesn't mean squat if you don't do anything with it." I once knew a man about whom it was said, "He thinks an insight is a real change." The comment was intended as an insult.

Eriq - I subscribe to a third line of thought about writing. It is for me a discovery process. "Write what you know," is tedious work for me: a real slog in deep mud. "Write what you want to read," comes closer to my truth. I'd say, "Write what you want to know."

The injunction, "Write what you know," (received as a kid) was a major barrier to my writing career. It took me many years to get past that one.

Hiren Shah

The reference document and not substituting reading for doing are very good points. I would also like to add for writing "I write to know what I think"

Otherwise in "Do what you know" the context has to be clear. Supposing an industrialist has burnt his fingers after an unsynergistic diversification "Stick to what you know" or "Do what you know" makes sense. This could be true of an individual too if he has strayed in the wrong profession.

Where choosing a career is concerned, I think the better idea is "Choose your career not on the basis of what you know but who you are". If only that could be determined with accruacy and without too many trial and errors.

Steve Harold

I think I have fallen into the trap in the past of buying those self improvement books hoping to see the light. Yet, what I haven't done yet and, this of course is the lesson of simplicity, is to write down what I know I can do to change or develop more, using my current experience and knowledge. In other words putting into practice some of those insights of the self developments books I have already read.

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