Knowledge is Not Enough to Change Behavior

I was listening to an interview with Keith Ferrazzi about teams and individual success.

One of his observations that jumped out was “knowledge is not enough to change behavior.”  If it were, NOBODY would smoke, eat dessert, or do drugs.  Pretty obvious, but quite profound if you think about it.

You need to modify behaviors to achieve different results.

In business, this concept should be incorporated into training and team development methodologies.  A leader or trainer cannot simply “tell” the team what needs to be done.  The most effective team-building comes from helping people modify behaviors to improve success and performance.  As individual employees, we also need to be aware of this, and mentally force ourselves to not just know the right thing to do, but modify our behavior to best practices. Only through reinforcement will behaviors become ingrained, and a part of an organization’s individual and team DNA.

While this concept can apply to any job, it is equally applicable to any individual life choice.

For instance, in my own personal life, I have the knowledge that I should lose weight and that to do so, I need to ingest less calories.  Sometimes, I eat and drink less.  Other times (usually around the holidays or vacation), I let it go and lose much of the gains I made.  I need to consciously modify my behaviors to sustain and achieve my goals.  The hole I created is self-inflicted, and getting out of the situation is way harder than maintaining it once I have achieved a good state. Still, the change in behavior is on me.

Knowledge is not enough. Developing systems that help us hold ourselves and others accountable for modifying behaviors is the key to achieving both personal and organizational success.