From A-ha to Ta-da! - Turning New Knowledge into Self-improvement



A few months ago my financial advisor recommended that I consider putting some of my savings into Series I bonds as a hedge against inflation. The bonds offer a guaranteed return based on the Consumer Price Index which is currently through the roof.


I thought it sounded like a great option but I have yet to act on it. Currently that knowledge is nothing more than a useless appendage.


(NOTE: I am not offering financial advice and I am not making any recommendations for what you should do with your money.)


It is not that I have decided not to make the investment, but I am somewhat hesitant to lock up the funds for a year. I am still in deliberations with myself - not deciding one way or the other.


Doing something

We don’t need to act on every piece of information we come across, but if we consume knowledge that we know has the potential to help us, we do ourselves a great disservice by doing nothing.


I am not actually a fan of the “bias for action” credo many businesses have. I have more of a “bias for thoughtful, directed action.” Without the thoughtful part, the action may get you further from your goals rather than closer to them.


Action, though, does not just mean acting on the knowledge. Deciding not to act on it is an action too. If I decide not to purchase the bonds, that’s fine, as long as it is deliberate and not out of fear or laziness.


I think of gaining new knowledge as an A-HA! and successful action as a TA-DA!. One of my keynote programs is even called “From A-ha to Ta-da!”


Collecting A-HAs feels great - we love to feel like we know stuff. To truly improve, however. and to elevate yourself in all areas of your work and life, you need to turn those A-HAs into TA-DAs.


Review your knowledge inventory

Do you have shelves full of books you’ve read with great insights and take-aways that you haven’t done anything with? Do you have notes from a course, seminar or lecture with information and ideas that were important to you when you heard them, but now only gather dust?


Think back on some of your recent knowledge acquisitions. Are there actionable insights you haven’t acted on?


Take a moment

Here are tips for helping you leverage your knowledge into better performance and a better you:


1) Be proactive before you learn by taking notes and setting a time to review them. Review with these specific questions in mind: How can this help me? What do I need to do for this to have a positive effect on me or others? Do I need to decide not to use the information because it is either not credible or not my best option?


2) Resist the temptation to discard information that is counter to your beliefs. Instead, see if it may actually be useful to you and open your eyes to a new perspective. For example, you may feel that a high protein diet is the most healthful for you, but then you read that there are downsides you hadn’t considered. Do you use that information or discard it out of hand? It may help to seek out more information from credible sources before determining what to do.


3) Are you waiting for something else before implementing what you learned? Do you tell yourself the time isn’t right or you’re not ready or you need more information? All of these may be true - but they may not be. Intentionally push yourself one step past the resistance.


4) Avoid over-consumption - just like with food or drink, over-consumption of information can be bad for you. I attend a national speakers conference every year and it is often described as delivering a firehose of great information. That is awesome but I need to be deliberate about prioritizing and scheduling the pieces I want to implement over time. Otherwise, I will feel overwhelmed and less likely to do any of them. Preferably you can spread your knowledge acquisition out over smaller actionable chunks.


In Your Hands

In my keynote and workshop programs, I always provide specific take-aways to make it as easy as possible for my audience to take the A-HAs I have given them and turn them into TA-DAs in their life and work.


But like you, the decision on what to do with that knowledge is in their hands.


Think well and be well.


- Steve Haffner

Decision performance specialist


Want to learn more about improving your decision performance?

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