We live in a culture that greatly values knowledge as a means by which to solve problems. It has been demonstrated many times, for instance, that the best way to assist people to move out of poverty is to provide knowledge, to educate.
Then, at some stage in the development of our culture, we came to value action.
Thomas H. Huxley once said: ‘The great end of life is not knowledge but action.’ This has been extrapolated to a widely used expression that ‘knowledge is not knowledge until it is turned into action’. So, we set out on our path to find knowledge and then apply it, such that it braids through our action and increases our motivation– the knowledge comes to life through action and the action builds our motivation.
When the action we take enables us to achieve more and we begin to build a sense of momentum, we are more motivated, we learn more and we are then enthusiastic about taking greater action. This creates a cycle where knowledge applied becomes action… and then, in turn, the action creates greater success and learning, which motivates us and feeds the knowledge… which then generates more action. So, the cycle looks like this:
This can be a very effective way to create movement and generate change. And, indeed, this principle is at the heart of a great deal of teaching in so many aspects of our lives, from the education of our children, through business development and change management, to popular diets and personal growth.
If you stop and think about it, it’s a core principle at the heart of so many different aspects of our lives.
My concern is this; motivation is a form of movement AWAY FROM, so this is effectively ‘problem solving’ thinking. At the heart of this way of being (or should I say DOING!) is problem thinking. Now granted, we all have a few problems to solve, so you may be wondering why you feel like there’s a ‘but’ coming.
Let me be clear that this is not a principle I think is fundamentally flawed.
However, somewhere along the way we become so focused on and fascinated by our ability to gain knowledge, take action and increase motivation that we work ourselves into a frenzy of gathering knowledge and taking action in order to increase motivation and eventually we enter into what I call the Action Vortex.
This is the beginning of the ‘hamster on the treadmill’ syndrome.
We gain knowledge and apply it to action – when that works, our increased motivation has us simply rinse and repeat until we are captured by our own Action Vortex. Once we enter this Action Vortex, it becomes increasingly difficult to see how we can possibly do things differently and so we simply keep on with generating more action.
How many times can you recall talking about how busy you are and how much there is to do and how you never seem to have time for things you once enjoyed or loved and how you’re always on the go and there are not enough hours in the day and how quickly the year is flying by… and so on?
This is the ‘talk’ of someone caught in the Action Vortex. This is also the ‘talk’ of an entire society caught in the Action Vortex.
We are working longer hours than ever before – and still can’t get ahead. We have a huge array of supposedly time-saving household appliances and office equipment – and we still run out of time. The fact that we all seem to be doing it doesn’t make it right, useful or central to the development, let alone the elevation, of the human experience.
So, what’s the alternative?
Imagine a continuum which at one end is all about KNOWLEDGE, ACTION and MOTIVATION – problem thinking – and at the other end is all about WISDOM, ATTRACTION and INSPIRATION – creative thinking. Let me explain.
In this context, knowledge generally comes from an outside source, whilst wisdom is a form of inner understanding. While both are valuable and have their place, by far the more powerful is to be in a state of INSPIRATION. At this end of the continuum, there is a strength of understanding of one’s own inner truth and wisdom – a sense of certainty about who we are and what we stand for. This then generates a level of congruence and energetic resonance that creates ATTRACTION to other people, opportunities and experiences.
The greater the wisdom, the stronger the attraction, and the more the attraction, the more certain and powerful the wisdom…and so the cycle goes generating INSPIRATION, which is a force TOWARD. The force toward which we are drawn through inspiration is LOVE, the elevation of the human experience! The more inspired we are, the more connected and loving we feel – to ourselves, each other and the world around us.
We have all met people on our journey who seem to be really ‘lucky’, in that good things just seem to come to them and all the right people and opportunities seem to just fall at their feet. That’s not LUCK unless we create our own luck! That’s ATTRACTION!
When people sense our wisdom (inner knowing and certainty) and see our attraction, they too become more inspired.
So, find your place of balance on the Action/Attraction continuum and create a life fashioned by inspiration, attraction and service. You were born to make a difference in this world and the greater the inspiration and “flow” you experience, the greater the legacy you leave.