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How to shift from learning to doing 

Entrepreneurs have to survive a tightrope balancing act when it comes to their own education. 

No group of humans is hungrier for new knowledge and practical wisdom. The best entrepreneurs know how much they don’t know. They constantly seek to close that gap. 

The serious, earnest entrepreneur assembles a personal MBA curriculum for themselves. Endless books. Courses. Events. It never ends. 

It shouldn’t.

Education has to be life long. In a business world where technology disrupts and reinvents the game faster and faster, staying on the cutting edge requires focus and dedication. 

The hard part? It’s the leap from learning something… to acting on it. 

A dangerous form of self sabotage hides out in your bookshelf. Or deep down the rabbit hole of whatever educational websites you delve into. 

Learning is comfortable. 

What better way to transport yourself back to the warm, safe bliss of childhood? School was a place where – regardless of all the problems it presented – having your nose buried in a book meant you were doing everything right. 

Adult learning – entrepreneurial learning – pushes all those same buttons. 

How contentedly safe does it feel to curl up with the latest must-read business best seller? 

You know you’re doing something that no one can really criticize you for. And yet you’re free from the responsibility to actually act. You just get to sit there and read. 

It’s irresistibly seductive to feel safe – shielded from risk, failure and rejection – and to simultaneously feel productive. 

To shift yourself from learning into doing, you have to perform a radically self aware and honest exercise: 

You must ask yourself if there’s something else you should be doing. 

Reading and learning does many things. It can guide your strategy, give you direct how-to tactics, simply inspire you and more. 

What reading will not do is execute that idea you have. Learning – in and of itself – will never move the dial on your business growth. 

Self awareness and honesty means asking yourself if there is some action you could be taking which could possibly create business growth. 

In Commit Action’s accountability coaching service, we call these actions “Growth Driving Activities”. We encourage our client’s to commit to them each and every week. 

Growth Driving Activities aren’t guaranteed certain wins. Some of them are exceptionally risky. 

They need to be done anyway. 

Growth Driving Activity is the essential work of the entrepreneur. 

Executing on these is the price of entry. If you don’t know any GDAs for your business, reading and learning will for sure help you find them. 

But here’s the rub: As soon as you find a potential GDA, executing on it – testing it in the real world of the market –  is essential. 

The people who forever continue reading and learning – with an ever-growing list of good ideas piling up and growing moldy – are only ever spectators to the game of entrepreneurship. 

Real entrepreneurs have a voracious appetite for learning. But they’re different to other humans because they continuously act. They execute on what they know they should, each and every day. 

They know that learning and ideas are neither scarce, nor precious. They know that execution is everything. 

7 Comments

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  1. Peter, You message today struck very close to home for me. Most of my life I have been a learner without the doing part. Since I have chosen to become a copywriter, taking action is the essential part of what I do. Still working through the process of overcoming lack of confidence in some of my pieces, but the only way I move forward is to hit “PUBLISH”! One phrase that I live by is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. Would appreciate your thoughts and if you have any articles that support my efforts, I would like to read them.

    Take Action!

    Robin

    1. Hey Robin!

      Thanks for stopping by. You should absolutely check out the resources we have over at http://www.commitaction.com – my other business. We specialize in helping entrepreneurs take more action (and overcome perfectionism) – I think you’d get a lot out of the free video we have there, you can opt-in to receive it at the bottom of any blog post.

  2. This was extremely refreshing—and also a relief. I’ve been reading a lot of Ryan Holiday’s thoughts about reading (meta) and it’s encouraged me to dive into more books…. But this reminds me that we’re missing out on a ton of the value learning provides if we don’t give ourselves time to act, too. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Ryan is a friend and I admire what he’s doing to popularize “deep reading” of a lot of classics. He’s definitely pushing an ethos I think is super valuable. From what I know of his personal life and workflow, he’s probably one of the best examples of someone who pushes themselves to consume a lot of learning material AND to take a terrific amount of action. The dude is a work machine!

  3. Ouch! You *finally* poked me where it hurts! I totally pride myself for being the up-to-date strategist extraordinaire, but yes, I do admit, I have always known my delicious research/study time is also my kryptonite. Merci for calling it into the daylight. 🙂

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