What is “Knowledge Mindfulness” Anyway?

In my last post , I wrote about the difference between information and knowledge — and the need for new and more interconnected ways of managing, understanding, and elevating the knowledge that flows through our lives and our organizations. When I talk to people about this, one of the things they sometimes say is, “Well, of course, you feel that way — you’re an educator! You’ve made your living helping people to learn stuff and use knowledge better.”

That’s a fair comment.  I am an educator (among other things), and I have spent most of my life thinking about how we can use knowledge better. But I’m actually here today writing about knowledge because I’ve seen the limits of traditional education when it comes to helping people figure out how to use and elevate knowledge in their lives.

When we think about education, after all, we usually think about exams and lectures and textbooks and standardized tests. That’s a very linear way of thinking about knowledge — it’s all about transmitting stuff in a single direction, downward, from the professor to the student. That’s the way knowledge flows are understood in many organizations, too — from expert to novice or from mentor to mentee.

But in the real world, the knowledge we need doesn’t come neatly packaged or ready to be handed down from master to apprentice. It’s messier, more organic, more tangled — and to make sense of it, we need a different approach.

That’s where knowledge mindfulness comes in.

Knowledge mindfulness is, simply put, a framework that gives you the ability to more effectively assess, elevate, and activate the knowledge you already have; enrich your knowledge by unlocking the totality of your own knowledge (including your deepest values and core beliefs) and by connecting more fully with others; and, ultimately, access a higher state of knowledge maturity to make smarter and more fulfilling decisions that benefit the whole ecosystem of which you’re a part.

That’s what it does for you. But what does it actually boil down to?

Well, there’s a lot to unpack. I’m trying to tell you in a few hundred words something that I’ve spent years thinking about and hundreds of pages writing about in my new book.

The best place to start, though, is probably with the real engine of knowledge mindfulness: the 3 C’s Loop. The three C’s are:

●     Create (Yet Keep Renewing). We all know that it’s important to be creative, and in today’s fast-moving world, our ability to creatively evolve and adapt has never been more important. But what we sometimes forget is that creativity should be a continuous process of challenging, interrogating, rethinking, and renewing our knowledge.

●     Connect (Yet Keep Disconnecting). To elevate our knowledge maturity, we need to connect with those around us so we can enrich and diversify our knowledge, and we need to connect with the ecosystem of which we’re a part. But we also need to make space to connect with ourselves — which often means stepping away from the grind and finding ways to center ourselves, reflect, and seek inner peace.

●     Capitalize (Yet Keep Acting). Our knowledge doesn’t mean a whole lot if we don’t capitalize on it and use it to drive success for ourselves, our organizations, and those around us. But it’s important to recognize that success can become a kind of sedative, leading people to relax into the status quo. Knowledge mindfulness challenges us to keep revitalizing our definition of success — to keep reaching higher and finding new paths to action that drives fulfillment and positive impact for everyone.

I’ve deliberately framed these three central concepts as opposing or contrasting pairs because knowledge mindfulness is about recognizing and reveling in the energy that comes from these tensions.

Knowledge mindfulness isn’t static. It’s an ongoing journey and a constant flow of evolving value as we learn to use different tools, strategies, and processes to elevate other ways of thinking about and managing and evolving our knowledge — and then close the loop by using our new learnings and capabilities to strengthen and elevate our knowledge processes.

That’s why I call it the “3 C’s Loop” — because it really is a loop, with creation and connection and capitalization (and renewal, disconnection, and action) all feeding back into one another to continually accelerate, augment, and elevate our overall knowledge maturity.

An evolving engine

As I said, the 3 C’s Loop is the engine of knowledge mindfulness. But it isn’t the whole story. By focusing on these areas, we’re able to mindfully develop a host of new strategies, tools, and solutions to strengthen and enrich our knowledge flows and to create more integrated and effective ways of acquiring, activating, and using knowledge across our lives and our businesses.

I’ve written a whole book setting out some of those solutions and helping to explain how knowledge mindfulness can help leaders to elevate knowledge maturity for themselves and their teams and help transform their business and their life.

But the one big thing I hope you’ll remember is that knowledge mindfulness isn’t simply something to be taught or to be learned. It isn’t a one-way street. Instead, it’s something to be shared and used — through the way we lead and the way we live.

As you use knowledge mindfulness, in fact, you’ll begin to come up with ways of applying its principles that are uniquely yours — things I didn’t think of and couldn’t have taught you. It’s when you start making knowledge mindfulness your own — evolving, elevating, and empowering yourself along the way and modeling the same process for your team — that you’ll truly have learned to lead with knowledge mindfulness.