Business Essentials for Professionals


Anti-Knowledge is killing you!

Anti-Knowledge is killing you!

This has been a theme in political arenas but it is all too often that the same occurs in many careers as well as in business. By Anti-knowledge I am referring to that which lies in wait as the anti to the known, to the ubiquitous. It’s the shot that takes down giants, industry and career juggernauts. Statements such as “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”, “That’s the way it’s always been done”, “This is how everyone does it” and on ad infinitum are the warning signs. It’s those who are living on past victories and riding the accomplishments of yesterday. Anti-knowledge is the perfect trap.

It lulls you to sleep before your eminent demise. It’s what you already know and know so well that it comes as second nature. It’s your specialization, that thing you know inside and out, can do it with your eyes closed. It’s a skill set or a domain mastery that gets taken for granted. It is the SOLE cause of Black Swans (as addressed by bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb). Kodak did it, the record industry did it, Blockbuster and Yahoo did it also. I get reminded of the scene from Batman (The Dark Knight Rises), in which Bane tells Bruce Wayne “Peace has cost you your strength! Victory has defeated you!”. I think it’s fitting and appropriate at the advanced stages of your career and in some cases much sooner. Complacency sets in, the hunger and drive start to diminish. Happens to everyone, YES, EVERYONE. Famous coach and speaker Lou Holtz put it best “If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today”. I would add “and you are ripe for a take down!”

So how do you stop it, Read, learn, move, change. You have to introduce problems into your environment that do not allow you to relax. Those type of problems that will force you to grow, to advance, to get better. I am not talking about goals; we all have those. I am talking about real life problems that once you solve them you will feel it again, that rush of accomplishment. That inner voice that thrusts your hands in the air as a sign of victory. What type of problems will be ultimately based on your capacity? What are your strengths?

Now, ask yourself, what are some things that could render them obsolete? What would it take to circumvent your own or your organizations obsolescence? Questions like this should scare and excite you simultaneously. Look what Social media and the digital age has done to advertising, look what mobile is doing to continually upset the balance. What is next that could derail the experts, the behemoths in your industry? Banks feel it, Insurance is feeling it, even the Republicans and Democrats got a dose of what happens when anti-knowledge is allowed to set in. Attack that, learn that skill, try to locate the “Law of Nemesis” with regards to any disrupters you have heard of, know of, or thought of. Exercise reverse brainstorming, do keyword searches, basically go on the hunt. Hunt for that thing, lying there in the shadows (these days it could be in a dorm room or someone’s parents garage). Focus your efforts on those, those are your next great opportunities, those are the things that gets the blood pumping vigorously. Those are just a few of the steps you can take to slice through your own anti-knowledge.

Challenge yourself to learn it, I am not talking about a to do list or whiteboard item. Issue a challenge to someone in your industry or organization. Promise someone a solution for that thing, whomever you are accountable to, peers with or even lead. Let them know that you have identified this “Disrupter Name Here”, and that in X time frame you will deliver this solution or answer or counter technology/strategy/methodology. Potentially a sacred cow in your particular domain, identify a weakness and go after that. But that’s the trick, you have to be willing to put yourself out there, if not that’s fine too. Because that thing is going to happen, it’s happening right now. Whether you like it or not, your skill set, organization and/or way of life is being or at some point definitely will be challenged. If you are mature, you will end up asking yourself “Have I been defeated by my successes, my progression or accomplishments”, “HAS VICTORY DEFEATED ME?”

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Michael Stattelman

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