Knowing is sometimes different from doing

Learning is often not hard. What’s hard is to improve learning performance and learning outcomes. (This photo was taken at HKG Int’l Airport)

Key takeaways:
– With Internet, we have easy access to abundant information;
Knowing how to do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do it well;
– Get to know how you ‘behave’ as a human will help your life and career.

I have to admit that Google helps my life a lot. I’m old enough to go through the era of working on a computer without Internet connections. When I was a university student in the late 80s, Internet just started and it was not common to have an ethernet cable plugged into a personal computer at that time. Information flew through printed media; slowly.

Time flies. Now we could get tones of information with a mouse click and many things have become transparent on the Internet. This helps my life and indeed, helps my research career a lot. With abundant information so easily accessible, we are in fact, information-overloaded for most of the time.

When I talk to a potential client for the first time, the most common feedback is that “I have already known what you said.” Then, the question from me is usually like: “Then, why haven’t you done it?” OK, here comes a million ‘reasons’ why the client is ‘special’, so what applies to other people can’t be easily applied to the client.

That’s not entirely true for most cases.

In last June, I was training for my first Ironman 70.3 and I wanted to improve my swim. So, Google helped me find a lot YouTube videos featuring those Olympic champion swimmers and elite swim coaches. I learned a lot from YouTube. Then, of course, I put that into practice both in the pool and in the ocean swim training sessions. Quickly I realised that it was not that simple. If I could improve my swim so easily by watching YouTube, then perhaps after watching tones of videos, I could become an Olympic swimming champion? Of course not.

After realising this fact, I researched out to a swim coach and did a few sessions in the pool. That coaching was the element that actually improved my swimming techniques, although I had ‘learned’ those techniques from YouTube before coaching sessions. YouTube and information on the Internet helped me but I couldn’t achieve my goal by my own.

You must have learned the same lesson from your past!

Perhaps this is exactly how we could improve ourselves. By getting to know how we behave in learning, we could improve the elements that stop us from improving. Most of the time, it’s not what you know but how you do it.

Dr. C. Richard Wu @

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