A very subtle trap in life that has caught me more than once is through my love of reading. In terms of words read over a lifetime, I am probably above average and tend to go in spurts as I have gotten older.
My reading has focused on nonfiction primarily around business. I have wanted to build a successful company and have always felt I have the talent to do so. What has evolved is I have successfully run a small business that has survived the 38 years I have been with it. There have been both good times and bad.
The subtle trap that I have come to recognize is the one where we believe in our knowledge of what we aspire to be but lose sight of who we are that most times don’t quite measure up. While I know I have many talents, there are areas in my business that don’t come as naturally to me. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, myself included.
The trap is that while I have deep knowledge in where I would like to be I am not equivalently in that space. There is much more work through real life execution that I need to yet do. The trap comes about from not understanding this as we rush through our lives.
It’s subtle because we believe so deeply in the comfort of knowing a world we aspire to that it becomes delusional in the sense that we accept our knowledge as the reality or affirmation that we are part of the world which we now know through our reading. This simply is never true.
Our reading can open our minds to new perspectives or context or approaches to deal with situations. Only our life experience can affirm our understanding. Our life experience is our initiation into the world which we read deeply about and aspired to be part of. Life provides us a rich, fertile ground from which to impact and travel widely and deeply within the subjects we have read incessantly about.
Experience, reflection, and adjustment. Plan, do, assess. There are many versions of this. Stop always when reading a book, a blog, an article or listening to a podcast that what you learn with your eyes is not the same as what you experience while implementing in real life what you thought you understood. They are never the same but infinitely more helpful when tested and lived during our daily routines.