There is a tension between action and understanding.
Often, we wait to act until we have acquired understanding or knowledge. We think we have to know the information or what’s going to happen. We believe that knowledge powers action.
That’s not how it works.
Here is the difference between understanding, knowledge, and wisdom, and what it really means to do “knowledge work.”
Understanding is cognitive. When you understand something you get it on an intellectual level.
Without understanding yourself you won’t take aligned action, but without taking any action you won’t understand yourself.
Understanding who you are and identifying what you stand for and what you value comes only as a result of taking action.
Knowledge is embodied. We come to know something by doing and experiencing it in the physical body.
Action creates the experiences that produce knowledge.
Knowledge is embodied. The essence of knowledge work is taking abstract concepts and bringing them into the body. This embodied experience is the form we create when we engage in knowledge work.
It necessarily involves not only reading and writing, but also engaging in a way that allows us to feel the emotional response in the body.
What is “knowledge work?”
Many people talk about this era of the “knowledge worker.” What they mean is people who work with ideas or information.
Let’s clarify that ideas and information are not knowledge.
The information you absorb as you read doesn’t become knowledge just through the act of reading.
Nor does it become knowledge when you process your notes and save your notes to a repository like Evernote.
You must apply that information and test it in your life to transform it into knowledge. It must be integrated.
True “knowledge work” is the practice of integration.
Wisdom comes from the soul. It’s the level beyond the mind and body. The knowledge won’t alchemize to wisdom without space for self-reflection.
You can learn wisdom from others, but you won’t truly know the wisdom until you have the experience yourself and do your own reflection on it.
Creating Space for Deep Work
Sometimes what gets done in a deep work session looks voluminous. You create a lot that you ship out into the world. Other times you have less to show for it. I spend the time noticing or reflecting. I dig into my emotional experience.
This is the essence of deep work.
Deep work is both intellectual work and emotional work.
Why this is important
It’s been this ability to hold space for myself and willingness to look beneath the surface of my own experience that has given me the depth of insights that draw people to me for help.
My clients are often shocked at the Way I can articulate what they feel better than they can. I can do this because I’ve committed to mastering my own emotions. I make time to process my own experiences, to turn information into knowledge and alchemize experienc into wisdom.
This is knowledge work. It happens in the body. I just create space to notice and observe what’s happening, and then I report on it to myself.
If you want to serve others, or even yourself, you must create space for deep work.