Information Overload

TAGS: information overload, chad aichs


Learning is an essential part of being human and of being successful.  We should never stop learning or striving to be better. Rather, education should be a lifelong endeavor. Knowledge, though, must be followed up with action. If we never act on or put into practice what we study, then of what use was that knowledge? Be aware that we can get too deep into learning and get so wrapped up in knowledge that we are overloaded with information. This can then paralyze us to the point where we end up with so much information that we no longer know how to act on it. All of the studying and learning then becomes useless. The strength or health and fitness fields are especially areas where it is easy to get information overload.

I have written many times about how different it was when I first started lifting some 35 years ago. We did not have the Web or such easy access to all of the information that is out there today. We had a few books that were mostly bodybuilding magazines. Even all of the Eastern Bloc weightlifting information was hard to get your hands on. So, we started to read magazines and hit the gym. We had to learn by doing or be lucky enough to find more advanced lifters to help us in person. I can see how in some ways, this seems bad or unfortunate, but at the same time, I can see where it may have been better. I was never great at learning in a typical school setting or by reading. I learned best by getting my hands dirty with trial and error, or even experiments. Of course, learning in this way can—and did—lead me to make many mistakes. Some of which could have been avoided had I had better access to more knowledge or information. On the other hand, gaining knowledge in this way taught me to learn instead of just finding and regurgitating information. It allowed me to think for myself and to expand on the things I did learn from others. It taught me to find my own answers as opposed to using other people’s solutions.

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Jeffrey McGraw ©

 When you’re seeking knowledge, don’t do it as a lamb. Do it as a wolf. 

In today's world, information is being thrown at us 24/7. We have books, magazines, podcasts, video websites, Web pages, social media, etc. We have information about any subject literally at our fingertips. This is a great and amazing thing, although at the same time, it is very dangerous. The fact is that anyone can put information out there with little or no credentials. It is simple for people to put up a false front to make themselves look accomplished or educated when in reality, they know very little to nothing about what they are saying. There is so much bad information out there that is released simply to push products or to gain fame. The ideals of integrity are not very prevalent in social media, from what I see. There are just too many people trying to act as though they know what they are talking about. Too many people trying to sell gimmicks or quick-fix ideas. Too many people selling someone else’s work as their own when they don’t even really understand it. Too many people acting like gurus when in reality, all they are doing is repeating what someone else taught them. It can be a dark, nasty social media world out there.

Once you learn to see through the dark side, then this modern age of information shines bright. You can expand your knowledge immensely once you start to look in the right places and for the right content. I personally will never stop learning about strength, training, health, or wellness. I realize that there are too many factors of these things for someone to ever know them all. We are too individualistic as people, and the knowledge will never stop expanding. If you stop learning in this field, you will be left behind.  As I continue to search, I see the bad and the good of our modern world. I remember how hard it was to find knowledge when I started to lift, and I see how much terrible information there is now. I think the question we should be asking is what were the benefits of the old times and what are the benefits of the new times. Then, we need to ask how these answers can help us to navigate the systems we currently have.

I have a lifetime of practice weeding through the quality and the crap information. I have gotten pretty good at knowing what is worth my time exploring and what is not. It frustrates the hell out of me to see so many lifters getting wrapped up in bad information and or completely missing the point of what they should be doing. I see lifters wasting too much precious energy following people’s advice that will give them short-term or minimal gains. I have seen people get so stuck trying to sift through all of the information that they never end up making any gains. Some get so confused that they just give up, and some just keep jumping ship, looking for better information. It is very hard for me to watch lifters put so much energy into their training while they get minimal gains or even injured by following some of the worst information out there.

My experience has taught me to start with one simple question when it comes to sifting through new information. What has that person done? Now I am not talking about what he or she tells me he or she has done, but what he or she has actually accomplished. Why would people dedicate their life to strength and not actually be strong? This is a major red flag for me. Not that everyone has to be world class, but these individuals should have at least respectable strength at a minimum. This also begs the question as to whether they are being honest about their strength. Not claiming a world record in some jack-ass federation with lifts that are average. Who have they trained, and to achieve what accomplishments? Some people are not great competitors, but they are great coaches. Do these people give credit where it is due? None of us came up with everything on his or her own. I can respect someone who admits that he or she got help from others. Does this person have actual credibility beyond what he or she spews on social media? These questions can tell you a lot about this person and his or her knowledge.

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If the information makes it through my first set of questions, then I draw up my common sense. I have heard people claim that common sense isn’t so common anymore, but I believe that we can all think and learn if we only make the choice to do so. There is an old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!” You do not have to be a genius to see that there are a lot of people who will lie, cheat, scam, and steal if it gets them what they want. It is pretty easy to see through most of the bullsh*t out there if we would just step back and use our common sense. Just take an extra few moments to hold back our emotions and use our minds instead. Does this idea make sense on a basic level? Is the person showing it able to explain it? Can he or she do it in a simple fashion? What research or proof is there that it can actually work? Using common sense means you judge a theory, exercise, piece of equipment, etc. based on logical thought. It does not mean that you judge it on the fact that the person pushing it makes you laugh. It does not mean that you judge it based on whether the person looks strong or is attractive. It does not mean that you judge it based on whether you like or even dislike the person.

I am excited that there is so much knowledge at our fingertips today. To me, all of the bullsh*t information is just a part of the process. I had to work to find information when I started all of those years ago, and now, I know where it is, but I still have to work to get to it. If it is worth having, it is worth working for. I am trying to make it clear that gaining serious strength takes intelligence. I truly believe that there is magic in the sweat, but it must be done in an educated way. I can sweat my ass off digging ditches all day, but not much will ever come from that. Sweat without solid results is useless. Now, sweat without results is just like information without intelligence. Following blindly behind people who are full of sh*t is just plain dumb. We must have brains with the brawn. Spending all day in the gym just lifting sh*t is not going to get us where we want to be. Spending all day researching strength is not going to get us where we want to be, either. If you’re new, get in the gym, and start with any basic program, but then, get to learning as well. If you’re already a lifter, then make sure that you are spending as much time or more time learning. When you’re seeking knowledge, don’t do it as a lamb. Do it as a wolf. Don’t follow blindly in a herd. You want to be a wolf, so learn from other wolves while understanding that if you want to lead the pack, you’re going to have to step up even more.

Inline image: Jeffrey McGraw ©


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