We read books, take classes, participate in seminars, and keep up with the latest info on social media to gain knowledge and increase our understanding of a topic. But that’s the easy part – it’s putting all this knowledge into practice that challenges many people.
Since practice makes perfect, I’m going to share three easy ways to put all your knowledge into practice – and gain the real-life experience that counts.
Fake It…Till You Make It
How many times have you heard that phrase? HBR author Herminia Ibarra says that this effective process often breaks down as people gain experience. When we become more assured of our abilities, it feels fake, almost like we’re a “fraud” of some sort, to mimic others.
But we run the risk of sticking with what’s natural for us, never stepping outside of our comfort zone. “And that’s precisely what gets us in trouble as we hit career transitions that call for new and different ways of leading,” explains Ibarra.
New college grads just stepping into the workforce often emulate bosses or other colleagues they look up to, until they eventually find themselves growing into the role. No matter where you are in life, you can “fake it till you make it” – using your knowledge to guide you as you gain real-world experience.
Incorporate Your Knowledge
Share your knowledge by spreading the word to others – family, friends, or colleagues. This accomplishes two things: you get to share your understanding with others, possibility introducing them to a new concept or topic. And, by talking about it, you build confidence about what you’ve learned and allow it to become more ingrained in your mind.
Take action by incorporating your knowledge into your life. Implement a concept you’ve learned into your daily life. Put something new into practice at work. Make a new routine at home. Don’t be afraid to ask others for motivation to help you.
Develop Your Confidence
Ibarra tells the story of Clara, an HR specialist who was promoted to Director of Operations. This meant she would now be managing people who were once her superiors. And, she was asked to oversee functions, like finance, in which she had no proficiency.
Of course, Clara understood what was involved in being a good manager. But she said managing areas without actually understanding the intricacies of the work made her feel like a “fraud”.
Clara began to emulate people she saw as effective leaders; for instance, when she met with the finance manager, she greeted her cordially in a similar fashion she’d observed her own boss do in the past. She started trying out a blunt, direct way of speaking she’d noticed other directors using.
Even though “playing the role” was exhausting, sometimes embarrassing and even depressing, Clara kept on. Then something interesting happened: after about a year, she says, she realized she had grown into the role: “As I began to gain confidence in my own ability to do this job, I also began to fall into a leadership voice that felt more like my own and less like an imitation of my former bosses.”
Knowledge is power, and gaining more understanding about any topic is an excellent way to build your skillset. But if you don’t put this knowledge into practice, you’ll never gain the real-world experience you need to soar to new heights. Make it a point today to take action with your knowledge. After all, practice makes perfect.
Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Colleen Slaughter Raue, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
Colleen is a transformational leadership coach who guides international leaders as they attain the clarity, courage and self-confidence necessary to realize higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives.
Her purpose is to facilitate her clients’ transformation from limiting beliefs and self-doubts into a deeper, more powerful knowingness of how much they – and what they envision for themselves – truly matter.
Colleen’s perspectives were recently featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.