It's NOT What You Know

Action is the real measure of intelligence.
Napoleon Hill

Human beings must have action, and they will make it if they cannot find it.
Albert Einstein

I never worry about action, but only inaction.

- Winston Churchill

There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.
John F. Kennedy







I still remember one passage I read in Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill…

The “missing” link in all systems of education known to civilization today may be found in the failure of educational institutions to teach their students how to organize and use knowledge after they acquire it.


This is followed by a brief story about Henry Ford…

Many people make the mistake of assuming that, because Henry Ford had but little "schooling," he is not a man of "education." Those who make this mistake do not know Henry Ford, nor do they understand the real meaning of the word "educate." That word is derived from the Latin word "educo," meaning to educe, to draw out, to DEVELOP FROM WITHIN.


An educated man is not, necessarily, one who has an abundance of general or specialized knowledge. An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others. Henry Ford comes well within the meaning of this definition.


During the world war, a Chicago newspaper published certain editorials in which, among other statements, Henry Ford was called "an ignorant pacifist." Mr. Ford objected to the statements, and brought suit against the paper for libeling him. When the suit was tried in the Courts, the attorneys for the paper pleaded justification, and placed Mr. Ford, himself, on the witness stand, for the purpose of proving to the jury that he was ignorant. The attorneys asked Mr. Ford a great variety of questions, all of them intended to prove, by his own evidence, that, while he might possess considerable specialized knowledge pertaining to the manufacture of automobiles, he was, in the main, ignorant.


Mr. Ford was plied with such questions as the following:

"Who was Benedict Arnold?" and "How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put down the Rebellion of 1776?" In answer to the last question, Mr. Ford replied, "I do not know the exact number of soldiers the British sent over, but I have heard that it was a considerably larger number than ever went back."


Finally, Mr. Ford became tired of this line of questioning, and in reply to a particularly offensive question, he leaned over, pointed his finger at the lawyer who had asked the question, and said, "If I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now, will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?"


There certainly was good logic to that reply.


That answer floored the lawyer. Every person in the courtroom realized it was the answer, not of an ignorant man, but of a man of EDUCATION. Any man is educated who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action. Through the assistance of his "Master Mind" group, Henry Ford had at his command all the specialized knowledge he needed to enable him to become one of the wealthiest men in America. It was not essential that he have this knowledge in his own mind. Surely no person who has sufficient inclination and intelligence to read a book of this nature can possibly miss the significance of this illustration.

I now am 25 years older and couldn’t agree more with these statements and the entire chapter “Specialized Knowledge” from the book Think and Grow Rich.

As a side note, if you have not read this, I highly suggest it. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have been through this one. It either can be found on my best bookshelf, on my nightstand, or in the bag I carry around. I also have it on my Kindle, iBooks, and own the CD and version. While these may seem obsessive, I am saying this to illustrate the impact that this has had on my life, training, and business.

General knowledge is the “base” level of knowledge needed to survive, and it is worthless when it comes to training and business. However, base knowledge will get you through life, because I see those people ALL the time at our local SuperMart. Specialized knowledge is what is needed to advance in any field. This comes in the form of advanced education, self-education, experience, and those wiser than us.

Many people feel that once a certain level of specialized education is acquired, that’s all they need. They are done! They graduated! Usually at that point, they stop learning, and after a few years, they are dead in the water, as the world has passed them by…but it can get worse.

What’s worse are those people who continue acquiring specialized education to the point that they know more than all their associates and peers (or so they continue to announce). They are great at telling you all the things that you are doing wrong, and have suggestions as to how it should be done, BUT they have done NOTHING! Education without action is like attending a gym full of plates and barbells, but never loading the bar and doing a movement. While a gym full of the best plates and bars and a large degree of specialized education is great to have, with action, there is no way you will not become Strong(er)

It’s not what you know, it’s how you use it!



There are many lifters out there I like to refer to as “leapfrogs.”

On one end of a stream, you have a group of frogs that decide they want to go to the other side of the steam because there are SO many frogs where they are, and only so may flies. They are sick of being like all the others; they want more to eat, and want to get to the other side where all the strong, rich, and happy frogs are.

One frog looks out over the stream and sees many frogs sitting upon lily pads and logs, and he figures that is the way to cross to the other side. After building up much courage, he takes his first leap and lands upon his first pad.

In a training perspective, this would be any of the number of programs from which you could select.

The frog sits on the pad for some time, and then realizes that he made progress. He is that much further away from where he started, but he still can’t see the other side. However, this new pad is nice, very nice. He has made progress and figures things are good right now, so there is no need to risk another jump. However, that is until he realizes that the food still isn’t what he really wanted, and that his goal was to make it to the other side. Now he looks for the next pad to jump to that will take him one step closer to his goals.

Things are different this time. Jumping to the first pad, while a GIANT leap, wasn’t really that bad, because there were so many open ones from which he could choose. Things aren’t the same now. As he looks around, he sees frogs all over the place, and he can’t find a free pad anywhere. So, while he waits for the next one to open up, he educates himself on all the new things that this pad has to offer, as well as researching all the other pads (the next training program he will use). Finally, a pad opens up, and he makes the next leap.

After landing, he realizes once again how much further he is from the shore, but he still can’t see the other side. This new pad is SO much better than the old one. There are more flies, more room, and the progress is so much better. He also realizes that he should have jumped to this new pad first, as that first one was totally worthless. He can’t believe how much was wrong with the old pad, and if he hadn’t jumped over to the new one, he still would be stuck in the same place.

Time passes by, and progress once again stops, and he notes from past experience that he needs to make another jump. Once again, there is nowhere to jump. All the pads are filled with frogs “croaking.” They all are frustrated because there is nowhere to jump; they are not making progress, and with each sound is another excuse or reason why they haven’t made it to the other side. It could be that the pad they are on didn’t work, that the frogs behind them keep pushing for them to leave, or that the frogs ahead of them cheated to get where they are. Regardless of the reason, it wasn’t because of them, because they were working hard and learning as much as they could. The two common factors are that they are not moving forward and they are complaining about their lack of progress.

Finally, another pad opens, the jump is made, and life is good—that is, until the critics begin, and everyone seems to be telling him he made the wrong jump. He did make some progress, but not at the same rate as before, because this open pad isn’t that much closer to the other side. He begins wondering if it was all worth it. The critics get worse, and they notice the pad has a tear in it that seems to be getting worse every day. He knows he has to jump, but the only two pads open are the same ones he already has been to, and he knows those were worthless, so he can’t go back there. Out of frustration, he jumps in the water and swims back to the shore to join his old buddies and talk about how crossing over isn’t for him. Getting to the other side is just for those who are genetically gifted, or for those who know someone who know an alligator that they can ride over on (that won’t eat them). He figures he has paid his dues, and learned an immense amount of specialized knowledge while on each pad, but he was just not lucky enough to get to the other side.

Upon returning, he realizes that he actually knows more than all of the frogs who never jumped in the first place. This isn’t just his opinion, either; rumors have started that he actually may know more than those who are sitting on the other side. This is validated when one of the frogs from the other side (aka, Master Frog) comes back to visit family and a discussion on training starts. This frog knows a lot about his own training, but compared to the other frog, the specialized knowledge isn’t even in the same ballpark.

This leaves our frog even more frustrated and jealous, but he didn’t want to be a critic, because he remembered what it was like when he was out on the water himself. He decided he needed to ask this frog how he got to the other side, and how he planned to get back after his visit was over.

What he was told surprised him. Master Frog told him he wasn’t a jumper, but a swimmer. Rather than jumping from pad to pad (program to program), he learned all of the basic principles of swimming, fighting, hiding, etc., before he got in the water. He also studied some of the specialized information as it would relate to his journey, such as what snakes like to eat frogs, what items in the water are the same color so he can hide, and if he had to emerge, where the best place to do so would be. He knew he didn’t want to take the same road as everyone else, because most fail. He knew his road would be a greater risk, but he also figured that if he took the general and specialized skills he knew and used, and used what he saw and learned while in the water, his chances were good. He also KNEW he would make it.

He took the road less traveled and put what he knew into action. He didn’t take the same road as everyone else, and he didn’t waste his time on specialized knowledge he would not use. He figured any specialized knowledge he would need on the other side could be found there in those who made it or elsewhere. He also stated that getting back wouldn’t take nearly as long, because he now knew what to do and look out for.

While this illustrates much of what I see in training programs today, education shouldn’t be discounted. Far too many people graduate and think there is nothing more to learn. Elitefts™ sponsors many of the top lifters, and they constantly are speaking with each other about ways to get better. The coaches on the site are always doing research and going to seminars. The best business owners and CEOs that I know always are reading, and they send me book recommendations every week. I will use this column to post a couple of the recommendations I have received from the executive meathead. Some of these books have changed the way I conduct business and do my job…

However, at the core level, we all know that we have to take action with what we DO know, as just acquiring knowledge to do so will not get us to the other side.

Are you a jumper or a swimmer?

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