Wisdom is defined as the application of knowledge. To do what you know therefore is to be wise. A friend of mine said, “You don’t know what you know, until what you know knows you.” The only way that happens is when you do something with what you know. It’s when you do what you know that what you know becomes part of you.
It’s expected that everyone would naturally do what s/he knows. Why would someone do what s/he doesn’t know? you ask. Though it may sound ludicrous, empirical evidence proves that a lot of people, for different reasons, do what they have no clues about.
The current global crisis precipitated by the stock market crash of 2007, which some economists claim is the worst since the Great Depression of 1930s, was caused in part by fund managers who invested huge funds in financial products (mortgaged-backed securities and other collateralized debt obligations) that they have no full knowledge about.
In Nigeria, the stock market witnessed the activity of noise traders. People who had no business being involved in the stock market investment went in en masse based on the illusion that there was money to be made. Of course, a lot of them incurred heavy losses.
Why it’s important to do what you know
The knowledge of what works and what doesn’t is the foundation of progress. You make progress in life when you continuously engage in productive activities. By productive activities, we mean activities that (work) produce results. However, until you put your knowledge to work, you really don’t know whether it works or not. It’s in the process of knowledge application that you realize what doesn’t work, which you can quickly jettison and move on to what works.
Thomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves.” Put differently, if we did all the things we know we would literally astound ourselves. This philosophy obviously made him perform over 1,000 experiments preparatory to inventing the electric bulb. Edison quickly threw away what didn’t work and moved on to something else.
Another reason you should do what you know is because the world is in need of doers not just dreamers. You must bear in mind that people don’t invest in dreams. As a banker, I told many would-be customers who came looking for bank finance for businesses in which they had no prior experience that it’s a tough call expecting banks to finance such businesses.
When you do what you know, you would sound more convincing when you decide to solicit support, especially financial, for your project.
It’s hard to deceive people that do what they know. I believe this is a very strong reason why you should do what you know. When you’ve cultivated the habits of doing things, you have an experiential knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work. Your vast experience also helps with a prognostic assessment of the workability of new information you come across. The overall implication of all these is that it becomes almost impossible for anyone to deceive you. This is a desirable human quality given the dog-eat-dog environment we live in now.
Things that can hinder you from doing what you know
There are two human emotions you would do well to avoid if you’re going to be up on doing what you know. The common attribute of these emotions is their powerful ability to override reasoning. The first one is greed. Greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially material wealth) than one needs or deserves (WordNet). More often than not, a greedy person forgets the rationality of doing what s/he knows when there’s a seeming opportunity for excessive gains.
The second emotion to avoid is ego. Ego is an inflated feeling of pride in your superiority to others (WordNet). Many times an egoistic person acts outside the confines of his mind. He usually doesn’t think deeply and it’s therefore easy to get him or her to act irrationally. All you need to do to get an egoistic person on this path is to either massage or bruise his ego.
Herd instinct can also hinder you from doing what you know. This is a mentality characterized by a lack of individual decision-making or thoughtfulness, causing people to think and act in the same way as the majority of those around them (Investopedia). This behavioural tendency is common in finance where people make the same investments without any independent thought.
Fear of failure and peer pressure are a few others things that could prevent you from doing what you know.
The Scripture is replete with injunctions about doing what you know. In James 1:22, it says, “But be doers of the word (you know), and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (emphasis mine). This is very instructive in that it makes it clear that when all you do is hear what has been said without doing anything with it, you’re deceiving yourself. It’s deceiving to the extent that you may think you know but you don’t really know until you put what you think you know into action.
A powerful argument in support of doing what you know is what Jesus said while admonishing his followers to do the will of His Father in heaven. In Matthew 7:24, He said, “…Whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man…” Doing what you know makes you a wise person and when you’re wise it’s much easier to overcome the difficulties of life and living.
When you do what you know, you make progress in life, it will be difficult for anyone to deceive you, you’ll be able to build a highly supportive network of people and, ultimately, you will be happy.