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Learning vs. doing

Several years ago, I decided that I needed to participate in a business mastermind so that I could network, bounce ideas around with smart people, and learn how to bring my business to the next level. I also hired 2 business coaches. And I bought about 7 online classes. And my Kindle was stuffed with a dozen books on business, marketing, sales, and content creation.

Do you think I had any time to actually run my business? Nope! My calendar was crammed to the max—but I wasn’t progressing towards any of my goals. Whyyyy?

Eventually, I realized—duh—it’s because I was learning, learning, learning…but I wasn’t leaving myself any time to take the great stuff I was learning and put it into action.

This is a pattern that I see all the time.

I know people who sign up for 6 different writing classes—and learn a ton—but then never actually do any writing. Or people who think they need to take 3 different business training programs—but then they’re so busy absorbing all the class materials that they never actually implement what they’ve learned.

Learning is excellent. Never stop learning. But we’ve got to make sure the ratio of learning vs. doing is tipped in favor of doing.

What is doing, exactly?

Doing means posting an article (not reading an article). Doing means recording a podcast (not listening to a podcast). Doing means teaching the live webinar that you promised your audience you’d do today, and then asking for a sale at the end (not attending someone else’s webinar.)

Doing means reaching out and setting up coffee dates with people you want to network with. Doing means pitching yourself to be a guest on a podcast. Doing means hunkering down in a coffee shop to write your damn book or screenplay.

It’s easy to stay in learning-mode, because learning isn’t as scary as doing. Learning feels cozy and relaxed—you can sit back, watch a webinar, or read a blog, or watch how other people are “doing.” It feels “productive” even though you’re not technically producing anything. Doing is whole ‘nother story! Doing means vulnerability. Doing means facing our fears and insecurities and making stuff happen.

These days, I try to spend 90% of my week doing—and the remaining 10% learning. That’s a ratio that feels good for me. Your ratio might be slightly different. Maybe for you, it’s more like 70-30 or 80-20. That’s cool. But in my opinion, doing should occupy the biggest portion of your day. Definitely.

Besides, the most valuable business lessons often come from—you guessed it—doing. We learn priceless lessons by experimenting, launching, refining, and then trying again.

As Amelia Earhart once said, “The most effective way to do it… is to do it.”

Scale down the learning—and dial up the doing. Less consuming. More creating.

It’s scary, at times. But as Amelia points out, there’s only one way to travel to where we want to be, and that’s simply… to do it.