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  • Writer's pictureJohn Brandy

The Knowing-Doing Gap

Updated: Mar 22

There's an Amazon book with that title.

Big Surprise, huh?

News flash?


The subtitle though is airquotes "How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action"

While I like the strategy, I think there's a little problem with that kind of thinking.

Not to put the book or the authors or anything off.

It's good to know that smart companies do that.

It's good planning, it's one way to stay ahead of the competition and I'd like to know more about it.

But what's not said, what I'm saying, is that smart PEOPLE do that too.

But that doesn't mean we can skip that step. It just needs a bit more development.

In fact, if we all, so many of us, with all our schools and learning, know about the problem and the path to fix it, then why don't we?

Why is it so hard to get to those challenges, to get to that place?

What is the knowing-doing gap?

For me, it's personal.

Knowing something is one thing. But that's just intellectual capital.

For real people, the principles involved in actually doing it are often an entirely different story.

Most of us probably know how to make tea. Hitchhiker's Guide jokes notwithstanding, brewing the perfect cup is not as easy as it sounds. That's a very simple example of the ‘knowing-doing gap'.

Picture a person close to you who says, "what am I supposed to do?" about a situation.

Any situation.

They KNOW what to do.

They KNOW what you're going to say.

That's not the problem.

Doing it is the problem. They need an action plan, and they need accountability for giving it organization.

As the name suggests, ‘knowing' is the just first step in the knowing-doing gap. Knowing is not by itself, enough.

Am I saying something unprecedented? No.

Revolutionary? No.

This gap has been studied for decades, and even if you don't follow that sort of thing you know (no pun intended) that when there's more than one step, you won't get results until you do them all.

So why is this important now?

Because the gap is getting bigger.

It's one thing to not do now (see: step 2),

But since the gap is getting bigger,

We must do what we can to make at least a little bit of that gap smaller.

I'm not trying to scare you into action.

Even though I love psychology, there's no reverse FOMO here. At least I won't admit that there is.


I just want you to get past a few cultural norms.

Just saying that things are happening faster as we know, and we are do-dealing with it.

Let's do the same thing with that increasing gap.

Just be aware when you are spending any time closing it.

Use whatever tools you find helpful to close it.

The Knowing-Doing Gap

Once upon a time, our heroine Kelly Carter built a bridge.

She had watched others build bridges. She'd watched them take ideas and put them into actions.

She had figured out why they might want to do it.

There were many possible reasons, and none of them was a major obstacle.

In this case, it was to put a span over a gap.

What was the gap?

Kelly had rehearsed her answer to this question, knowing full well the values it embraced would come at some point.

It was the Knowing - Doing Gap.

This is that very very common space where there's some sort of separation between the types of knowledge we have, the things we know are right, and what we actually do about it.

As Kelly frequently tells herself, it’s why we have coaches.

It's why we have trainers.

It's why we practice.

It's one thing to have knowledge, and don't get me wrong.

It's important to know what you're going to do.

To take the action of knowledge translation, putting it into doing.

What is crucial is doing something.

The Buddhist joke commanding us to "don't just do something, sit there", while worthy in its own right,

Does not fit in this scenario.

It's for a different thing.

It's not wrong or right. It's just different.

Kelly was going to do it, though. She had realized that the best plans she could possibly come up with were nowhere near as good as taking some action that could be measured and weighed and maybe even repeated.

Kelly knew.

She also knew she didn't need to have anything FIRST before getting started.

Nothing beyond self-actualization anyway.

She didn't need fancy financial planning software to be running first before she could get started.

She had her plan of attack. Watch Kelly do.

We’re changing the way we look at things, and

Remember, “THAT’S GOOD”

Also remember, this is Financial Life Coaching from A Happiness Perspective! Coaching Happiness.

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