by Niall Doherty

If you’ve been reading along here for a while, you’ll have likely noticed some recurring themes.

Inevitably I end up making the same point or sharing the same lesson in a slightly different way every few months. I used to try avoid this, but not so much anymore. I know from experience that we often need to hear the same message several times before it sticks.

There’s a significant difference between knowing and learning. That difference is action. Learning results in behavior change; knowledge, not so much.

All that to say: if you ever catch yourself writing off an old and familiar lesson you’ve heard many times before (here or elsewhere), pause for a second and ask yourself, “Have I learned this, or do I just know about it?”

Commitment and Consistency

Now to a point I’ve made before, the importance of which I was reminded of while reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion 1.

I’ll let Bob Cialdini tell it…

Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.

Indeed, we all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided.

But because it is so typically in out best interests to be consistent, we easily fall into the habit of being automatically so, even in situations where it is not the sensible way to be. When it occurs unthinkingly, consistency can be disastrous.

To avoid disaster…

Don’t be afraid to change your mind, break promises, or look like a hypocrite. Screw what other people think. If something no longer feels right, no longer makes sense to you, drop it and move on.

To make all this a little more tangible, think of a big decision you made that you’re reluctant to go back on. Then ask yourself this: “Knowing what I know now, if I could go back in time, would I make the same choice again?”

If the answer is no, cut your losses and make it right. It’s never too late to be true to yourself.

Show 1 footnote

  1. Thanks to reader Trent for the book recommendation.