Education and training is important; it’s the second component to “doing the knowledge.” And you have to have root knowledge, not branch knowledge. This means you can’t just skim the surface of a subject matter and suddenly become the master of it. Having a comprehensive knowledge requires digging deep, even if you are ahead of the game at the start with a bundle of natural skills for a particular subject. You can’t ever have too much knowledge, but you can have too little. And a little knowledge is usually dangerous. That’s when you’re likely to take too many uncalculated risks and enter a minefield ill-equipped.

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You can acquire that knowledge in school or in life. Mentors and teachers come hugely in to play here. They often make for great cheerleaders, too.

Even the creams of the crop have coaches, teachers, and mentors. Famous singers have singing coaches. Olympic athletes have coaches. Actors have acting teachers. Bestselling authors have editors. We all need someone who can take our raw talent and transform it into polished talent. We also need people who can challenge our thinking, and get us to acknowledge a different perspective from time to time.

Trouble is, as witnesses to (and for some, envious admirers of) others’ success we typically see the end result rather than a progression of practice, practice, practice. When we watch a star perform on the stage or a runner dashing to the finish line at the Olympics, we forget to consider all the manufacturing that went into that single, winning moment. We skip over the hours upon hours of missed attempts and fine-tunings that helped usher out that now dazzling performance of talent. We are in awe of the outcome but fail to acknowledge and appreciate all the in-come leading up to it.

For example, every singer has a sound check before any performance. So will you before you go out and do whatever it is you’re intended to do.

For those who need more structure and a process to handling decision-making, let me share with you my A.H.E.A.D. methodology. It can help you track your options mentally and stay in tune with yourself:

        A: Assess risks from an educated standpoint. Do the research necessary to learn all the potential risks involved in a pursuit. Don’t overlook any of them.
        H: Hear what enters your mind. Don’t underestimate the power of gut instinct when weighing pros and cons and taking on honest look at risks.
        E: Evaluate thoughts and potential solutions to problems. You’ll likely be problem solving from the day you ask yourself those critical three questions. Take your time thinking through what you need to do in order to move forward. Think through every step and direction you decide to take. Consider other options along the way. Be open to circumstances that change your surroundings.
        A: Act based on experience and self-examination. Make calculated moves. Like the game of chess, see if you can act with your third move in mind.
        D: Discern between what’s working and what’s not working to continue forward. That doesn’t mean we have to stop. We have to be willing to let go of ideas and pursuits that clearly aren’t working. They should be placed in the desire category instead of the known-skills category. If you hit a wall, but there’s an open road to be taken elsewhere with another set of skills innate to you.

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