I’ve been discussing goals and beliefs recently, but it’s been pointed out to me that there has been an element missing.
When I was discussing goals I described A type goals as those which you or I know how and what to do to achieve and when talking about beliefs we made an assumption that to boil an egg we already had the know how so that we were able to believe we could do it.
The missing link in all this is where does the ‘knowledge’ come from and indeed what is ‘knowledge’.
It’s not quite as simple as it seems.
When I was working as a distance learning tutor on the Warwick Business School MBA programme, the most common issue that arose was that students felt the need to regurgitate their knowledge about a subject rather than answering the question.
Bob Proctor has a diagram about what happens at school which ends up with the mind, the conscious mind, being filled up with ‘books’.
Schools teach knowledge in the form of ‘facts’ or what are assumed at the time to be facts.
Many so called ‘facts’ have been proved to be completely wrong since I was at school – and then we’d only just got past the ‘scientific fact’ that it was impossible for a human being to run a mile in less than 4 minutes!
Notwithstanding ‘what’ people are taught at school or ‘what’ they see in the media and the ‘news’ all those facts that you and I have been given are not enough.
Knowledge, however much you or I have of it and whatever it concerns, is absolutely useless.
It doesn’t matter if we know how to boil an egg, it doesn’t matter that we know England was invaded by the Normans in 1066, it doesn’t matter that we know Pythagoras’ theorem.
It’s all useless.
Unless we do something with it.
That sounds simple but it isn’t – there’s much more to it than just ‘knowing’ stuff.
I had to explain to my MBA students that the key point of the programme was for them to demonstrate how they could apply their knowledge to the question in hand; at that level of education, ‘knowledge’ and the ability to acquire it is taken as a ‘given’.
Knowledge consists of two elements – the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.
So “the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the square on the other two sides” (of a triangle) – how does that work then?
And I seem to remember answering that question in my ‘O’ Level maths exam a long time ago.
Forgotten it now though because I’ve never had cause to use that piece of knowledge.
Knowing how to do something – like how to boil an egg – is still of very little use on its own.
You see, there has to be a goal to cause you or I to implement whatever knowledge we have.
And there has to be a belief that we can achieve that goal.
So if we know how to boil the egg having a boiled egg becomes a very simple A type goal
But if we don’t, then it becomes a B or a C where we think we know how it might be done – a bit like Edison with the light bulb, or we have no idea like Kennedy and the moon landing.
Part of the goal achievement process is to acquire the knowledge we need – but there is still something else.
First you and I should have a clear reason why we seek to achieve our goals and closely related is for us to understand that reason.
There is a big difference between knowledge and understanding.
We can have knowledge without having any clue what it means or what it’s about, but we cannot have understanding without the knowledge that underpins it.
When something ‘doesn’t make sense’ that can be for one of two reasons – it’s either very difficult for us to understand using our current ‘knowledge base’ or it is just plain wrong.
That’s why we get curious and investigate and research to develop an understanding.
There is a big difference between ‘knowing what we are doing’ and understanding what we are doing.
We are more likely to be successful more quickly when we understand.
Solving the problems set to the MBA students required them to understand the knowledge they had acquired before they could apply it.
Let me tie the whole thing together – goals, beliefs, knowledge and understanding.
When you and I set a goal we start with ‘why’ (or at least we should!) – why this goal? And if there is no ‘why’ then what precisely are we doing setting the goal.
Now we have to ‘believe’ that we can achieve that goal and focus our purpose on achieving it.
Sometimes this is easy, sometimes not so easy because the next thing we do is compare the goal with the resources we have that we believe we need to achieve it.
As I explained before, this ranges from already having all the knowledge, understanding and resources we need (A) to having ‘nothing’ (C) – if we have ‘some’ it’s a B.
Regardless of the class of goal we create an unshakeable belief we can achieve it and then it’s down to understanding what that means.
What knowledge and resources do we need to ‘acquire’ to achieve that goal?
When we fully understand what it is that we need to know, to do, and to ‘acquire’ then we can achieve any goal in which we truly believe.
And that is how to do ‘everything’!