Knowledge is Powerless Without Action

Knowledge is Powerless Without Action

Having an insatiable desire to learn is one of most important traits anyone can have because the opportunities to be edified are endless. Whether it is developed from our own experiences or from reading, listening or watching, knowledge is everywhere.  

The old cliche that we hear so often is that “Knowledge is Power.” This is absolutely true. But Knowledge is NOT Power if none of it is being transferred into your life and being applied. In the past few years, I’ve read lots of self improvement books, as well as listened to podcasts from many wise people. I’ve learned a lot from reading and listening, however, I haven’t necessarily maximized the value of the knowledge I’ve obtained. Knowledge without taking any action is useless.

If you go to a Barnes and Noble Bookstore and buy a book for your self improvement, is it the act of buying the book and reading it that makes it feel beneficial, or is it reading and seeking to apply the things you learned that are your motive? I say this because I have made the mistake many times of thinking that just by reading a self improvement book it will help elevate me. That’s not how it works! It requires a deliberate intent in order to apply the things you learn and implement them into your life. Retaining information from a whole book is hard enough, so you need to be intentional about maximizing the parts that resonate and converting that knowledge into action in your life.   

If you’re not applying the things you’re learning, not only are you wasting time, you’re also wasting money on damn book investments!

This concept holds true in many forms. As a basketball player, when I’m in the gym working on my game, I’m always trying new moves and using creativity to expand my repertoire of shot making and read and react instincts. However, I simultaneously understand the frustration of putting in countless hours, but then lacking the courage or confidence to try to take those certain shots or try those certain moves in game. Those emotions force you to ask yourself if it’s you who is getting in the way of yourself or if you need to be more intentional and realistic about what you’re working on. At this point in my basketball career, when I’m in the gym, I am envisioning the kind of scenarios I will be in and the shots I’ll be taking, rather than shooting step back threes, which are pretty unrealistic for me. I’m using my experience and knowledge from playing in countless games over the years to help me refine my preparation. 

What I work on, I apply. 

Work Smarter, not Harder. 

Want another example? How about one from one of my favorite films of all time: Monsters University. Mike Wazowski studied every possible textbook that dealt with all the intricacies of what makes the best scarers because he desperately wanted to be a part of the MU Scare School. He knew everything inside and out; however, he lacked the intangible traits of the best scarers and was kicked out of the program after not passing the scaring test. All that work he put into learning the fine art of scaring suddenly seemed worthless to Mike. But, in the final scene, Mike and Sully are in a big quandary. They are stranded on an island filled with kids and patrolling police, where they need to generate a big enough scare to bring themselves back to the monster world. In that moment, Mike had an epiphany that all that knowledge he obtained from his vigorous studying could help him contrive a plan to save both of them. 

MIKE said to Sully:
I have read every book about scaring ever written. This could work. 

They’re ADULTS! I can’t do this!

Yes you can, just follow my lead.

Fearless and Calmly Confident. Mike Wazowski’s plan resulted in the biggest scare in school history. All that knowledge was put to use and the result was legendary. That scene hits me every time. 

My urge to write this blog came from the podcast Colin and I recorded a few weeks back called Learn and Apply and also my re-engagement with one of my old notebooks. From all those books I read in the past few years, I jotted down hundreds of noteworthy quotes and concepts in a small purple journal that resonated with me while reading. I’ve been revisiting all of what was written in that journal, and it has reminded me how powerful knowledge can be if we choose to utilize it but also how useless it is if we don’t act on it. 

Knowledge for its own sake is meaningless.

Knowledge with a purpose is powerful.  

Constantly seek to Learn and Apply. 


Brendan McNamara

MTD Co-Founder

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