“The enemy is a very good teacher.” – the Dalai Lama
Do you spend a lot of time like myself reading up on how to do things?
Trying to get my own business up and running has not been easy. Partly due to my own fears and doubts, also because of my lack of knowledge.
So like anyone else I search, I read, and look for answers to make it easier. However I noticed a problem with getting all this information.
Recently I came across a ebook on how to create ebooks. Great I thought. I hope to create one at some point in the future. But just before I made the purchase I stopped myself.
I realised that at this stage I did not need to know this information, I don’t have a finished manuscript.
Reading it may have given me important information, but it would have taken me away from what I should be doing which is writing more.
I am getting fat on ideas, like Homer Simpson on doughnuts.
It is just that ideas are so tasty!
The Trap of Knowledge
All kinds of advice on how to do things can be easily discovered. We subscribe to blogs, YouTube channels, listen to podcasts, look at sideshows, webinars and so on.
There is so much information and advice that even if you remove all the crap, there would still be too much for anyone to read. The previous bloggers I subscribed to posted so often that at some point I just had to unsubscribe. It was taking me away from what I should be doing.
In the past months I have come across a new set of bloggers that I have subscribed to. Sites like Unmistakeably Creative, Goinswriter and Cal Newport.
Here the problem reared its head again.
Too much information!
What can happen and did with me is you waste time reading advice instead of acting upon it. It is perhaps a trap that experts unwittingly lay down and we fall into.
I have this great idea for a post, I write a few notes on it, then have another idea that replaces the first. Grrrr!!
I don’t need knowledge, what I need is focus!
Curse you experts for knowing more than I do, and saying it in such a way that I feel I must read it. Filling my head with new ideas when what I should be doing is emptying it!
I read somewhere that ‘the enemy of an idea is another idea’. I don’t spend enough time on an idea, and write it up until it’s finished.
I feel it’s not a problem about them a such, but the internet as a whole. Just one massive distraction.
It’s part of culture now, that we are busily doing nothing. The term is ‘Narcotizing Dysfunction’ . With such an avalanche of information people become apathetic to it. So we become informed on a subject without actually doing anything about it. Ending up with a sort of fake productivity.
Experts can be a distraction just like anything else. Worse perhaps, because we feel we need their advice in order to make progress. So we latch onto anything and everything they say.
Then become so full of ideas that we don’t know where to start. We scatter our efforts and energies, the result is nothing gets finished.
‘Reading about how you can help me will not get me to help myself.’
What I should be doing is focusing on the next step, or a problem I am currently having. Work on that, research that, and only that, then move onto the next thing.
This is me trying to get all the answers in one go. Even to problems that have not yet occurred but might do so in the future.
Part of it too is my own insecurity, thinking that I have to know all the answers before acting, or getting that idea written down perfectly before posting it.
At some point, when reading a post or a book, I have to say it in my head. ‘Sorry, I know you mean well, but I really need to get my head down and do the work.’
What I have learned is that you have to say this all the time. It’s an act of discipline.
So what next?
I suggest cutting down on the amount of information that goes into your mind.
In this case the blogs you follow. Unsubscribe to those blogs that post too often, and deliberately limit yourself to how much you read from those you remain with.
Also look at other forms of information you consume, books, emails, websites and so on. Cut back, reduce the deluge. Use what time you gain by doing the work you need to do.
But be wary
The web demands attention, so be vigilant. You need to check this every so often because you can easily fall back into the trap of adding more sources with just a few clicks on the mouse.
“Expert advice is dangerous. So handle with care.”
It can prevent your success just as much as promote it
 Lazarsfeld and Merton, Mass Communication, Popular Taste, and Organized Social Action, 1948