“To know, and not do, is to not yet know”

A few weeks back, I was at a presentation of Janyne Peek Emsick, and she reminded us of a great quote from Karl Lewin:

To know,
and not do,
is to not yet know.

Have you ever explained how to tie your shoes? Better yet, was there ever a time that you tried tying shoes simply based on a verbal description of the process? You had to DO it to get it, right? That’s what Lewin is getting at.

Have you ever read a great article or book with a new leadership idea that you couldn’t wait to implement? Sure hope so! Ever give up because it was clumsy – or you were intimidated by the process? You’re not alone.

It is true that we ought to try new things; it is also true that when we do, we might be lousy at them. And lots of people give up at that point. The successful don’t; they push through the clumsy attempts at new good ideas — and end up setting themselves apart from the crowd, just because they stuck to the new way of giving feedback, or running a meeting, or employing a task management system.

Flip it around — do the people you lead nail everything the first time? Hopefully not, otherwise their job is too easy. Do you make it safe to make mistakes, AND maintain the high standards that they must reach after they push through the mistakes? That’s the sloppy, clumsy part of nailing new skills.

It’s useless to know, unless you do. Push through, and make it safe and expected for others to DO as well.

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