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Dorian Wales @ The Personal Financier

I offer a question regarding cause and effect. If knowing is rewarded regardless of doing why do at all?

Maybe the awareness exists in the form of knowing=better marketing=promotion=let someone else take the blame for my poor results? Maybe the incentives are all screwed up?

From my experience the knowing-doing gap is strongest in bureaucratic organizations where processes take so long you’re usually long gone by the time they end.

Closing the knowing-doing gap one day at a time...

The Financial Philosopher


Your question, "If knowing is rewarded regardless of doing why do at all?," strikes at the core of the dilemma presented in this blog post.

I have personally "succeeded" in the business world where knowing is "rewarded regardless of doing." While others may see this differently, I view those values as empty, pretentious and absent of meaning.

In the short space of a blog post, it is difficult to communicate the larger picture, but to answer your question, the reason for aligning our "knowing" with our "doing" is to live a meaningful and purposeful life.

Success, as defined by social convention, is quite obtainable with little or no skills, and you are right, the knowing-doing gap tends to be wider in larger, beaurocratic structures, such as government and institutional-level business. This is where knowing absent of doing is rewarded, if not highly regarded.

Success, as defined by those of us seeking meaning and purpose, will likely be measured by the degree to which we know ourselves (knowing) and how we leverage that knowledge to align our ideal self or who we are (being) with what we do and how we act (doing).

Thanks for the thought-provoking comment and for adding to the discussion. I will visit your site and hope to hear from you again...



This is an absolutely wonderful post. "Smart talk" has always annoyed me, but I've always known it as "bullshitting", to be a little less PC. Nothing bothers me more in a work environment than endless meetings and hot air.

Subscribing to your blog. Found your from GRS. Looking forward to reading!

The Financial Philosopher


Smart talkers are certainly rewarded in school and in the business place but I believe the "rewards," such as higher grades, better jobs and more money only perpetuate the rat race mentality.

Once the "reward" is reached, it is quickly consumed and the hunger returns. This is why I believe it is important to differentiate between rewards and goals.

Let the smart-talkers continue their rat brain pursuits while you sit in the conference room quietly confident in your own meaningful pursuits.

Instead of finding frustration in the meetings, now perhaps you will smile and be entertained by the "bullshit..."

Thanks for subscribing!

Please join in the conversation again. I'll watch for you over at GRS, too...


Thank you for the welcome! I've been perusing your blog for the last hour or so and it has been very enlightening for me, this topic especially. My husband spends alot of time humoring my "What are they saying?!" exclamations while watching television or reading the news. Especially if it involves politicians, businessmen, or pastors. I truly can't process anything meaningful from most of the garbage they speak.

Thank you again for a wonderful post and looking forward to reading more of you!

Jeremy Welch

I'm working pretty hard right now to close this gap. I fell into the trap of talking a lot more about what I wanted to do than actually completing tasks, and now I'm trying the opposite. I've hacked away at distractions, and its a relief for me to say its beginning to work.

My new philosophy in this area: focus to the point where your creations are doing the talking for you.

The Financial Philosopher


You make some great points. Since you are aware of the gap, then I believe you have already done half the work. Also, I believe there is a time for smart-talk and "knowing absent of doing" as long as the "doing" soon follows.

It is difficult, if not counter-productive, to struggle with the perfect balance where our knowing and doing are always in proportion and aligned.

In a business setting, and most personal pursuits, knowing will precede doing anyway.

It's good to hear from you. It sounds as if you are doing well...


Jeremy Day

Hi Kent,

Great post. As a recent MBA graduate I can't tell you how much I have thought about this exact topic. I even read The Knowing-Doing Gap in grad school.
I am guilty as charged in being full of "smart talk" without action. Luckily I have a few friends that help me to live up to what I say.
And that's the key. If your going to talk the talk, you got to walk the walk. Once you say it, if you are a person of integrity, you have to do it. That is why I don't make promises lightly. It is also why once I decide to do something, I tell everyone, so they hold me accountable.
As much as I hate to say it, the only way to get people to do what they say they are capable of doing is to start holding them 100% accountable. That's the answer in my book.



This is not a criticism of this worthy information, but just curious about the apparent misuse of the word "their" in the sentence "Sometimes managers don't know what their talking about" excerpted from the Harvard Business Review article, "The Smart-Talk Trap," authors, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton? I'm not sure if the error is in the original article.

Kent @ The Financial Philosopher

The mistake was mine and I've corrected it! I appreciate your sharp eye...

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About Kent Thune

  • Kent Thune is a wealth manager, a writer and a philosopher... Read More


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