The Problem of Knowing

Do you know it?

As I was reflecting over the various interactions I passed through over the last week, a rather strong message seem to surface itself. I shall describe two experiences from varied situations which has led me to pen this blog

Situation 1: I happened to meet a CEO of a fairly successful small business, with great aspirations for growth. He had invited me to explore the possibility of helping him grow his business. During the course of our conversation he repeatedly made references to the enormous opportunities that lay in front of him. How he knew what lay between him and the opportunity, how he knew what the key challenges were and also how he knew what may be the broad solutions. Due respects to his interest in the business, I was rather intrigued by the number of times he referred to the word ‘Knowing’.

Situation 2: A chance meeting with an old friend ended up in resurfacing of pleasent old memories. We also discussed how each of us had put on weight and lost our fitness. Incidentally both of us kept saying that we knew that we were losing our fitness, that we knew we were accumulating fat, that we knew what was contributing to it and interestingly we also knew what we needed to do to reverse the trend.  What intrigued me at a later point in time post our meeting was the fact that we used the word ‘Knowing’ just too many times.

Looking at both of these situations in hindsight I again know that there is something about this ‘Knowing’. Though I still don’t fully understand what this ‘Knowing’ does in the long term, one thing definitely is certain – this ‘Knowing’ does not allow us to act. It could  be surprising to think of it this way and most rational thinking will not justify this view. It is widely accepted and rationally true that once we know what the problem is – we can find a solution. And once we know what the solution is, we can then resolve. But the problem in real life is that most often, it doesn’t.

My simple request to you is to take two minutes and ponder over the two most challenging projects or problems that are in front of you both as a firm and as an individual. Look at them objectively. And hear what you tell yourself. You will understand whatever can be known by you about the challenge and the solution is already known to you. But for some reason you seem to have overlooked taking the associated actions. Your ‘Knowing’ has actually removed the urgency from the situation. It has made it familiar and given you the empty complacence of being in-charge – when systematically the situation has deteriorated.

Are you now seeing the ‘Problem of Knowing’ at work?


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