"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The "Curse of Knowledge" - Made to Stick

I recently completed a book entitled Made to Stick.  The key theme is simply that certain communication (written or verbal) has a way of affecting change and impacting behavior throughout an organization. There are fundamental principles for reaching your audience and gaining buy-in, especially when it comes to purpose, strategy and ideas.  So, what does any of that have to do with this blog site? Glad you asked. Let me further explain.

One of the discoveries that is outlined in the book is that we all have a tendency to approach situations with what is called the "Curse of Knowledge."   An understanding of a certain subject matter that is far beyond those for which we are attempting to communicate.  There is a least common denominator of comprehension that serves as the starting point and without realizing this gap the battle is lost before it begins.  This is not "dumbing down" the message at all.  In fact, it is often not a matter of intelligence, but it is finding the starting point and the patience.  Again, why on a blog dedicated to running and discipleship?  Again, glad you asked.  Let me explain just a bit more.

To fully appreciate this phenomena, the authors described an activity that they have used often with similar results each time.  Take a room full of people.  Have one person tap out the beat of a very common song on the front table (think 'Happy Birthday').  The tapper will say that at least 50% of the audience will easily know that song when he is done.  The audience will say that they are highly likely to name the very common song.  The results: the group is lucky if one person can name it.  It amazes the tapper, because in his mind the taps are so obvious.  He even hears the song playing as he taps away.  It is the curse of knowledge in that the tapper has insight that others don't have and can't believe the others don't immediately recognize the insight he is sharing.  His audience does not hear the same song and quickly misses the message.

After reading this I couldn't help but think about how often we have great knowledge of subjects, hobbies, and disciplines that we have spent years learning and refining.  We come across someone new to this information and we are plagued with the curse of knowledge.  Our message is above the comprehension level and we become quite impatient to the questions for clarity.  That could be with someone new to running; i.e., how do I train? what's so unique about certain shoes?  what is pace?  And it can definitely be with someone searching for a better understanding of scripture or our faith.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that he "has become all things to all people so that in that way he may save some." This is not a call to behave in anyway we choose, but a call to meet others where they are.  To share with an understanding of that individual's background and present need. In some cases, it involves stepping out of our comfort zone into generational or cultural extremes.  To use our knowledge, which has only been gained through others investing in us, in a way that creates comprehension, as a blessing rather than a curse.

Make it a great day!

Note: unrelated to the above thought, but interesting that directly following the verse referenced previously is verse 24: ".....in a race all runners run......!"

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