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  • Writer's pictureErik Frederickson - Life Coach and Recovery Coach

Head Knowledge vs Heart Knowledge

How many times have you been trying to help someone and they replied by saying, “Yeah, I know, I know.” Or how many times have we been the one that replied to the person trying to help with the empty response of, “I know, I know.”

I did it for years and years, and then I got to thinking.

Having been in recovery for over a decade and worked with countless people to help them live the best recovery possible, I can not tell you how many times people still caught in addiction have replied to a statement or question with the "perfect answer". This all too common reoccurrence helped me begin to recognize something.

The reality between head knowledge and heart knowledge is vastly different. I can sit down and memorize a book on how to make money. But when is it that I have the evidence of how to make money? When I have, and am, making money.

The point being, you don’t know what it is you think you know until the evidence of that head knowledge can be found in your life. I call this evidence, heart knowledge.

I now work with people in recovery with most of my time and energy. I hear the response often, “I could teach those Recovery classes in rehabs and group meetings.” My reply? “No, you can’t. You can repeat head knowledge that someone taught you, but until the evidence of that knowledge can be found in your life you have been suckered by the curse of knowledge.”

Knowledge is great. I read countless books, I listen to podcasts and I regularly and intentionally set out to challenge myself and grow. But the learning (book smarts) is the beginning, not the end. The bottom line is this, you learn by putting the knowledge into action and figuring it out as you go.

It should bother us more than it does that we have people teaching college courses about business, that have never owned or run a business. I mean, isn’t that common sense.

I’m not declaring that just because someone hasn’t owned or run a business that they couldn’t share some valuable information about the principles of business. But the fact remains, until the people they are teaching put the head knowledge to use they don’t know what they think they know.

When it comes to recovery from a lifestyle of deadly addiction head knowledge can be greatly beneficial, but only when put into action. It’s when the head knowledge is balanced with heart knowledge that balance and transformation become real.

Heart knowledge is when the result of applying the information takes shape and practicality. Heart knowledge should be the end goal for everyone. I didn’t learn how to get clean and sober by memorizing all the right answers about recovery. I got clean and sober by listening to the right answers and then learning how to actually live them out with God as my help and guide.

“We can’t solve problems with the same mind that created them,” said Albert Einstein. If my mind has led me to create problems through my actions, I need a renewing of the mind. The head knowledge transforms into heart knowledge when put to enduring action.

Head knowledge is the obvious starting place and is needed, but heart knowledge is where the real gold is mined and added to our characters account.

Here are 4 practical tips for transferring head knowledge to heart knowledge.

1- Pick the person's brain that’s teaching you. Ask as many questions as possible as to how to practically begin to implement this new knowledge in your daily life. If you can’t physically ask the person because you’re listening to a podcast or reading a book, begin tip 2.

2- Learn to take risks and push your boundaries to step outside your comfort zone and figure out how to apply head knowledge in real life. The only way to really learn how to ride a bike to get on the bike and ride, but you wouldn’t learn how to ride a bike on a downhill dirt road with loose gravel everywhere. Wisdom would be to learn on green grass so that when you fall, you can get right back up and learn from the mistake.

3- Create more value for the solution, 1min video. Fix your mind on the reward on the other side of your hard work, not the discomfort of doing the work.

4- Be humble, and be nice to yourself. When learning a new language if I’m more afraid of failing then I am of learning then I’ll never actually learn the language. It’s in being willing to fail and learn where real wisdom takes root.

Taking action is what fuels the transfer from head knowledge to heart knowledge.


Erik is a certified Life Coach and Recovery Coach. He has been coaching people into recovery and more of their life purpose for years.

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