You don’t need to read another book. You need bigger goals.

“When you have HUGE goals that you’re pursuing, you become highly selective about what you learn. You only learn those things you can actually use and apply.”

“Reasons come first, answers second. It seems that life has a mysterious quirk of camouflaging the answers in such a way that they become apparent only to those who are inspired enough to look for them — who have reasons to look for them.” — Jim Rohn

Information consumption is on the rise. Rather than learning for the sake of doing something, people now “learn” because they think it will automatically make them successful.

Correlation doesn’t equal causation.

Reading lots of books won’t make you successful.

Reading lots of books will definitely help you become successful, if you already have a compelling reason to gain that learning. Without that reason and without a target, your learning will be distractive and directionless.

It is for this reason that Jim Rohn said, “Reasons come first, answers second.”

Which begs the question: What are you actually pursuing?

Are you pursuing something compelling enough to clarify what you need to learn and become?

Or, like most people, are you caught in the web of information-addiction? Of “ever learning” but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

In the book, Skin in the Game, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “Things designed by people without skin in the game tend to grow in complication (before their final collapse).”

Taleb also said: “True intellect should not appear to be intellectual.”

You could learn more about yourself in five minutes embracing your fears than you could potentially learn reading 500 books.

Yet, we live in a world that prizes head-knowledge over courage and purpose. True learning doesn’t come from acquiring information, but in being forced to handle situations that reshape how and why you live.

According to systems scientist and MIT professor, Peter Senge:

“It is tempting to think that just because one understands certain principles one has “learned” about the discipline. This is the familiar trap of confusing intellectual understanding with learning. Learning always involves new understandings and new behaviors, ‘thinking’ and ‘doing.’ ”

Similarly, Dr. Stephen Covey said, “To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”

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Information and wisdom aren’t the same

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” — T.S. Eliot

Wisdom means you know what to pursue and why. It requires you actually live what you understand. You must be continually disrupting your own worldview by taking on bigger challenges in the real world — where the value of your thinking is put to the test.

Wisdom requires what Cal Newport calls, “Deep Work.” According to Newport, most things people pursue are shallow, rather than deep.

Shallow activities are easy to replicate. Almost anyone can do them. They require almost no bar of entry.

Reading books has become shallow work, because it is so easy to replicate. Anyone can pick up a book and read.

Few people, however, can pick up the right book at the right time and immediately test what they’ve learned for a specific purpose. Hence, Newport has, “Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”

Gathering information and “learning” for the sake of learning is a clear reflection that you do not have clarity about what truly matters to you.

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Imagination is more important than knowledge

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” — Albert Einstein

There’s a great show on Netflix called “Amazing Interiors” that I love watching with my three kids. The show is about houses that look completely normal on the outside, but once you get on the inside, these houses are ridiculous!

What’s fascinating to me about this show is how much creativity and focus a person can put toward something if they know what they want. Ingenuity is easy when you have a reason.

There’s no shortage of human ability or resources. There is a shortage of imagination to actually do something with your life.

It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have if you lack imagination to do something.

What do you actually want to do with your life?

What COULD you do?

What would be important or powerful to do?

In a recent interview, Kobe Bryant explained that the reason he was able to reach his level of success was because he was curious and imaginative.

You don’t become one of the best basketball players in history without imagination. Kobe himself admitted that when he first started, he wasn’t good. His first season playing basketball, he didn’t score a single point.

But his father instilled in him curiosity for what was possible. He helped Kobe develop an imagination that transcended what most people would tell him he could do.

According to Gold Medalist sprinter, Leroy Dixon, “Amateurs are the people who will tell you what you can’t do.”

If someone is telling you the limits of what you can pursue or strive for — they are projecting upon you their own limitations. They are amateurs and spectators.

Don’t listen to someone who doesn’t instill in you imagination for what is possible.

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True learning is emotional, not intellectual

“I’m attacking anything that I’m scared of.” — Will Smith

It’s easy to read books and look and sound smart. But what are you actually doing with your life?

What action are you actually taking?

What is the freaking point?

In reality, true learning is not even intellectual, but emotional. In order for an idea to actually mean something to you, it must strike at your deepest sides. It has to trigger an emotional response and replace your old perspectives of the world.

Your memory is your operating system to the world — it’s the lens through which you see and experience everything. All memory is tied to emotions. Core memories are based on deeply emotional experiences that then became your reason for believing and acting the way you do.

In order to shift your memories, you need to have deeply emotional experiences.

Recently, Will Smith bungee-jumped out of a helicopter over the Grand Canyon for his 50th birthday. Now, that may sound like a really bad idea. But to Smith, it reflects something much deeper.

When Smith was young, he learned about “the complete rejection of fear” when his father faced down a gang member who was parked outside their house with a gun on his dashboard, planning to shoot Will.

Hence, when Will Smith fears something, he doesn’t let it plague him. Instead, he confronts it boldly.

According to Seth Godin, we’re all mixed-up about what we should fear. Most people fear things that aren’t actually dangerous, but instead, are simply outside of our comfort zones.

The only way to truly learn something is by going beyond your comfort zone. Otherwise, there is no risk. There’s no putting your ideas or beliefs to the test.

It’s easy to believe something while sitting in your armchair. It’s a lot harder to believe something when the stakes are high. When you’re in public. When you could fail and that failure means more than that you didn’t get a few likes on your Facebook post.

— — —

Do you have skin in the game?

Are you actually confronting your fears?

Are you stepping outside of your story?

Are you pursuing something big enough that it terrifies you?

Are you pursuing something big enough that you’re required to learn and become something far more than you currently are?

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How steep is your learning curve?

“I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded… if the situation demanded.” — Will Durant

According to learning expert and chess prodigy, Josh Waitzkin, a person’s potential is not based on their “intrinsic” abilities. But rather, a person’s potential is based on how steep their learning curve is.

Put simply, how steep is the mountain you’re currently climbing?

Are you confronting fears and challenges beyond your current skill-level daily because of what you’re pursuing?

Is your situation demanding far more of you than you’ve ever attempted before?

Are you regularly dealing with uncertainty? According to Tony Robbins, “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.”

You can say whatever you want about Tony Robbins — but in this case, what he is saying is based completely upon scientific fact. In psychology, the concept known as “Tolerance For Ambiguity” has been shown to predict how successful a person will become.

When you have a high tolerance for ambiguity, you are fine dealing with the unknowns of trying something new. You have developed a tolerance for being outside of your comfort zone.

You’re fine being embarrassed for not knowing the answers.

You welcome imposter syndrome — knowing that if you’re feeling this thing, that you’re trying something big or new or challenging.

You seek awkward conversations that could lead to HUGE opportunities. As Tim Ferriss said, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

The greatest of all human fears is uncertainty. We really really like to be able to predict how things will turn out.

Uncertainty is the foundation of all fears. It’s what keeps people stuck. Navigating uncertainty is where true learning happens — not by sitting comfortably in your chair with a book.

Don’t get me wrong, books are great! Gaining head-knowledge is important for creativity and dealing with the mechanics of problems. But without emotional-intelligence and purpose, it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have.

According to the Greeks, true knowledge is what they called “Gnosis,” which implies a type of knowledge that is derived from experience, and encompasses the whole of a person. That is, it is genuine knowledge of the truth. According to this definition of knowledge — reality and truth do not fit neatly into a concept, dogma, or theory. In order to have genuine Gnosis, knowledge and understanding are things that one must experience.

The steepness of your learning curve is entirely reflected in your current situation in life.

What type of goals are your currently pursuing?

What challenges are you facing on a daily basis that you’ve never had to face before?

How much are you actually learning — through human experience, not just staring at a screen or a page?

How much has your life actually changed in the past 12 months? According to the British philosopher, Alain de Botton, “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”

If your life isn’t radically different from where it was 12 months ago, you don’t have a steep learning curve.

You may be acquiring a lot of information, but you’re certainly not doing anything with it. You’re probably playing life more like an academic than a true practitioner and learner.

If you’re still the same person you were last year, then you’re not being put into the fire of experience. You’re not being required to show up and perform and solve problems and you’re not creating through imagination.

The reason most people stop succeeding at a certain point is that they start creating out of knowledge rather than imagination.

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Conclusion: You need something bigger to work toward

“Reasons come first, answers second. It seems that life has a mysterious quirk of camouflaging the answers in such a way that they become apparent only to those who are inspired enough to look for them — who have reasons to look for them.” — Jim Rohn

When you have a compelling reason, then you can start looking for the answers.

When you have HUGE goals that you’re pursuing, you become highly selective about what you learn. You only learn those things you can actually use and apply. You aren’t simply an armchair philosopher. You’re actually in the world trying to solve real problems.

You have skin in the game.

You’re TESTING your knowledge in the real world, not just in your head or in conversation.

You’re actually building something.

When was the last time you took MASSIVE action?

When was the last time you shocked your emotional system through exposing your fears, limitations, and weaknesses?

When was the last time you did something that might not work?

When was the last time you confronted some of the biggest fears that are currently holding you back?

At some point, you have to leave the theory behind and step outside of your comfort zone where you don’t know what will happen.

When was the last time you did that, even in a small way?

What would happen if you started facing your greatest fears in a big way?

What if you developed a tolerance for uncertainty?

What if you stopped worrying about what other people thought of you?

What if you stopped trying to look intelligent and instead tried to do something important?

What if you got extremely curious about what was possible?

What if you allowed your imagination and massive action to transform you into something far beyond what reason or logic would suggest?

— — —

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This article first appeared on Medium.

Benjamin P. Hardy|is a husband & father of 3