Knowing is not enough; We must apply. Wishing is not enough; We must do. – Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe
I did not understand this quote when I was younger. I had always heard that knowledge is power. So, I gathered all the knowledge I could in the form of books. It doesn’t mean that I ever read the books, I just had them sitting on my bookshelf. Knowledge right there at my fingertips. It was powerful right? Please. What use is a book you won’t read?
Many times when I have found something new I want to learn I would buy a course or find videos to download on a topic. I am an auditory learner and, in my mind, it made sense that videos or lectures could be a very good way to learn. The same with audiobooks. I would happily gather the material… and never listen to it. second verse same as the first.
I think it may be that I like the idea of doing those things more than I really wanted to do those things. I wanted to gather the knowledge, but I never sat down and examined why. Why did I feel the need to collect the books or the materials to learn if I had no real desire to learn it? Was it that I didn’t want to learn? Or I was focused on the wrong things?
By contrast, there are many things in my life that I know how to do very well. There are many areas where I have excelled, if not mastered, the topics of study. (I use the word mastered very lightly here. There is always room to improve in any area.) These are things that I am passionate about or have felt the need to accomplish because it takes me closer to my goals. In short, the areas of my success are there, in large part, because of the things I’ve actually done, not just the things I’ve learned.
I give you this example. Growing up, my mother was to cook in the house. If I wanted something to eat she was usually the one that fixed it. (The only exception to this is that she taught me to bake when I was nine or 10. I could make some mean brownies.) If I was hungry for real food though, she was the one that made it. I am very thankful for her and the way that she took care of me, dad and Chris. There were tough times but I never went without a meal.
When Marixa and I got married I knew how to make two things: steaks on the grill and burritos…But most of the time I bought the burritos from Taco Bell. We learned how to fix a few more things over the years, but cooking was never one of those things I thought that I would be very good at.
One day I was watching a show called Mexico: One Plate at a Time on PBS. It was hosted by a wonderful chef name Rick Bayless. Rick and his wife spent many years in Mexico studying the culture and the food and he is now a world renowned chef. On the show that day Rick was demonstrating how to make salsa. I remember being captivated as I watched. The ingredients were beautiful. The process was simple. I could almost smell the salsa through the TV. He was so gifted at what he was doing he made it look very achievable. I was hooked.
Right after the show was done, I gave Marixa a hug and told her I was going to the store to get ingredients. She smiled and sent me on my way. Did I know what I was after? I had never bought a tomatillo before. The green leafy wrapper around it was strange, but I was undeterred. I paid for all of the ingredients I had in my cart and went home to see if I too could make a delicious salsa. Believe it or not, I did.
If I ever have the chance to meet Rick Bayless and shake his hand, I want to. I would love for him to understand my gratitude. Like he has with many other people, Rick taught me that cooking was something that I could do. More than that, he inspired me to not just learn about it, but to actually do it.
To me, that’s the difference between the two positions. There are things that we learn and do nothing with that, in the end, don’t hold much value. There are things that we learn and we immediately do. There’s so much power in that. As I write these words, my head is filled with so many examples of where this is true in my own life. For the good and the bad.
I am making the choice today to DO. I challenge you to DO the same.