When I was in rehab for my cocaine addiction I met a guy who was an Addiction Psychologist. We’ll call him Carl.
There were a lot of psychologists and counselors at the treatment center I was in (Hazelden, one of the in the U.S.). But the interesting thing about Carl was that he was not on staff. He was a patient there, just like me.
Even though Carl had a deep understanding of how addiction worked and was able to help others, he couldn’t help himself.
And Carl struggled to make progress in the program. When we would go through a group exercise he already “knew” what the counselor was trying to get us to do so it didn’t “work” on him.
He knew so much he could have led the classes himself. But his knowledge, which he assumed was such a blessing before, became a curse.
Instead of just “doing” what he was told, he would analyze everything, including himself, and end up doing nothing. A classic case of analysis paralysis.
What’s interesting was that Carl was not the only one who struggled with this “curse of knowledge.”
It’s Not Brain Surgery
There was another man there, who we’ll call Edward, who was a neurosurgeon.
Yes, a brain surgeon (I was in with some pretty successful addicts!).
Edward was also too smart for his own good.
He thought he knew better than the people trying to help us too. He wouldn’t really engage with the process and always carried himself like he was better than everyone else.
They ended up shipping Edward to another facility. The rumor was it was a place in the South where they sent “hard cases” like that.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because I realized that knowledge is not power. Taking action is.
Someone who has a low IQ but who is willing to follow directions could do the 12 Steps and stay clean and sober.
But the person with a high IQ, who could write a book about addiction, but refuses to do the things necessary to stay clean, will relapse.
It’s not enough to know what to do. We have to do it!
I also see this at work in business, and in my own life. I’ve read countless business books and learned a ton of great things. Yet, I’ve struggled to really break through and build the type of business I want.
And if I’m honest I have to admit that I have not done thing things I know I should do to get to where I want to go.
But I’m starting to do those things now as I transition from owning a job to owning a business.
But I have to remember not to mistake “learning something” for “doing something.” It’s what we do that counts, not just what we know.