Most people assume that performing well in school and getting ahead academically is a good indicator of entrepreneurial success but this is not always the case. Revolutionaries like J.K Rowling and Steve Jobs weren’t top of their class and both went on to change the world.
The truth is that being able to apply knowledge strategically matters more than the amount of knowledge you have. Here are some ways to hone in on what you need to know.
Being able to recall information is not the same as being able to apply it. Memorization is not the same as learning. It’s a skill that helps remember things but it doesn’t do much to encourage understanding.
The highest level of learning occurs when you are able to take new knowledge and apply it to new materials and ideas. When you’re creative in applying and using what you’ve learned, you get a deeper understanding. Perhaps this is why some of the most successful entrepreneurs are willing to experiment.
A real-life application of this idea is in learning a new language. You can memorize as many words in Spanish or French as you want but that doesn’t mean you speak the language. It’s only when you can have a conversation, read a book, or write a letter that you can communicate in that language. The application of knowledge is what ultimately matters.
2. Take a fresh look at things.
To be successful, it is sometimes useful to forget things that you’ve already learned. There are times when we learn things that don’t fit into the framework we’ve already established and it is essential to be able to break that framework down to incorporate new information.
One trick is to approach every new situation as if you know nothing about it. Often, we bring our biases and assumptions and allow what we already know to inform new knowledge. This can only get in the way of seeing the potential in a new opportunity.
Looking at something with fresh eyes is easier said than done. One trick is to focus on questions instead of answers. Consider all viewpoints and don’t go with the quick answer that you assume is correct just because it’s been correct before. Do not settle for your first impression. Try to look a little deeper.
3. Have fun.
When you approach something with fresh eyes, it should encourage curiosity which is one of the biggest motivators for learning. As toddlers, we learn to eat, crawl, talk, and walk because we have a curiosity about interacting with the world that motivates us to grow. By pursuing things that generally motivate us and bring out our curiosity, it’s easier to think, understand, and remember. Why? Because we’re doing it because we sincerely want to, not because we’re being forced to.
Entrepreneurs should focus on genuine interests to stay motivated and driven to succeed.
4. Don’t do it all yourself.
While you might have done a lot of the leg work at the beginning, you need to be comfortable delegating if you plan to scale your business and be seen as a leader. This frees up time and allows you to work on the things about the business that really interest you.
It’s important to realize that there are people around you who are better at some aspects of your business than you are. Why teach yourself to program when you have a techie on staff? Someone more skilled can deliver better results in half the time and, in the end, that’s good for your bottom line.
Sometimes, Less is More
A lot of entrepreneurs spend a lot of time researching and amassing mounds of information. This can make you feel like you’re really getting somewhere but, at the end of the day, what do you really have if you’re unable to apply it?
Sometimes, less is more. You don’t have to know everything. Focus on the things that genuinely interest you and try to come at it with fresh eyes. Delegate the things you can and try to apply any new information quickly.
Any opinions are those of author and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.