Reading Is Not Action

May 17, 2021

I love to read, and I read for different reasons. I scan the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution daily to keep up with the news. I love a great action novel in the genre of Tom Clancy or Vince Flynn. I read for information, education, and to try and become a better person. I read for nonspecific reasons, as well. While I have learned a lot from reading about many different things, my reading has also taught me one fundamental fact.  Information and knowledge are no substitution for action. 

In most cases, it’s not the knowledge you have acquired or what you know about a particular subject that is most important. It’s what you do with that knowledge that gets rewarded. You can read a great magazine article about some exotic place and see beautiful pictures that show the flair and magnificence of the locale. Still, until you visit it, you won’t know what the experience is genuinely like.

Time and Effort

And even when you have experienced that new destination, you’ll need much more time and effort to build a level of excellence in your proper understanding of society. You’ll want to spend time exploring sections of the city or country and immersing yourself in some aspects of the culture to grow your true grasp of the people and their style.  

Likewise, you can read volumes of manuals on how to fly different types of airplanes, and I have had to do that many times in my long aviation career. Yet, until you get in the cockpit and take action to work the controls, you won’t know what it is like to fly that plane.

And even with that extensive base of reading knowledge and having taken the first step to get into the cockpit and fly the jet, you won’t immediately get it right. You’ll make mistakes and screw things up until you learn the proper methods and figure out the techniques that work for you. 

Habit Is the Goal

As time progresses and you continue to put the effort in, your skill will develop, and you will become more proficient.  The more you practice, the higher your level of competence and excellence will begin to emerge.  What had been a struggle will become a habit which is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Habit is the result of taking action and is what you strive for. Habit is your goal.

The point is whether you are traveling the world to explore new places or taking on the challenge of learning a new and exciting skill, it takes action on your part to truly know the experience. It will take even more time and effort to get the most out of your pursuit to attain a level of excellence. Reading is always the place to start and will provide a good foundation, but it will never substitute for action. 

Acquire a sense of urgency and develop a bias toward doing it now. Action is always what’s required to learn, grow, and achieve.

A Quote To Consider

“There is only one proof of ability—action.” 

Marie Ebner-Eschenbach