They’re vastly different things.
The ancient Greeks had two distinctly different words for knowledge. One of them is good for business owners, the other one, not so much.
A Tale of Two Words
Gnosis is the ancient Greek word for “knowledge of the head” – 2+2=4. The sky is blue. Gravity sucks. Plants need water. All good stuff to know, but not nearly as powerful as the other kind of knowledge.
Epignosis is the ancient Greek word for “knowledge of the heart/life”. This is voodoo of a different kind and is much more valuable to the business owner. Epignosis is not something you know to be a fact, that can sit in your head unused for decades. Epignosis is applied knowledge. It’s knowledge that directly affects the way you live and act every day. You don’t know it, you do it.
As a business owner we know things with our head that are interesting, fascinating, boring, essential (profit is good, loss is bad), and some of it very complex. We love complex knowledge – understanding markets, watching trends, researching possible products and services – because it all takes a lot of time to learn and makes us feel smart. Even other people are impressed when we talk from our head knowledge about these things.
But Epignosis, knowledge of the life, is a special thing and should be cherished by business owners. It is that knowledge on which we act and build a business. Things like calling people because we “know” if we do, some will buy. Or building connections with strategic alliance partners because we “know” they can rain on us for decades with clients. Or getting out of our office and serving our clients or other business owners because we “know” that helping others get to their goals ensures our own success.
We know that we have Epignosis about something because it affects the way we do things. Gnosis is only about what we know in our heads, but Epignosis goes to the very heart of what we BELIEVE (more on that next week), and it is our beliefs that determine our actions. If I believe bicycling will make me fit, I will do it regularly, not think about it. It’s true Epignosis.
I Say Tom-ay-to, You Say Tom-ah-to
The problem is that we get the two confused all the time. We think that knowing something with our heads (I will be successful if I make those phone calls) is somehow valuable. But knowledge of the head is only valuable when it comes out our hands as knowledge of the life.
Successful business owners have a special relationship with life-knowledge, Epignosis. They go looking for the kind of knowledge that can be immediately translated into action that builds their business. Those that struggle are much more inclined to research, think, strategize, analyze, postulate and theorize. That kind of Gnosis may be very satisfying and impressive, but it will leave you poor. When it comes to Gnosis, the old adage, “Knowledge is power”, is wrong. If knowledge (Gnosis) were power, librarians would rule the world.
In Your Head, Out Your Hands
Life-knowledge makes us do something, not think something. It is at the core of Conation – Committed Movement in a Purposeful Direction (CMPD). Conation is the most important business word you’ve never heard because we live in a world ruled by Cognitives, Thinkers – Gnostics who loving knowing but not doing.
Want to be successful? Fall in love with Epignosis. Every time something goes in your head, figure out how it can come out your hands to help you build a better business. Translate Gnosis into Epignosis – it’s a great way to build a business. Stop thinking. Get moving.