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Why knowledge can be more important than motivation

There once lived a king who was about to sail off in a ship with a bunch of courtiers and subjects. As soon as the captain started the engine, it made a loud, rattling sound and stopped.

The captain tried again and again to start it but in vain. Everyone on the ship who knew a little something about steam engines tried very hard to fix the problem but no one succeeded.

After hours of wasted effort, the king finally summoned a person named Jim, famous for his ability to fix engines.

When Jim arrived, the king and other men were curious as to how he was going to fix a problem that had wasted so much of their effort. So they intently watched him work to maybe learn a thing or two about steam engines.

the king's steamship

Jim, after arriving on the scene, carefully looked at the engine and examined all its details. After some time he opened his toolbox and took out a screwdriver. Using that screwdriver, he tightened a small screw and said, “That’s it. Your ship is now ready to sail off”.

With an incredulous look on his face, the captain again started the engine and this time it turned on without stopping. Everyone was relieved.

“100 dollars please", Jim said to the king. The king was astonished, “100 dollars?! What for? You just tightened a screw”. Jim replied, "1 dollar for tightening the screw Sir and 99 dollars for knowing which screw to tighten".

Knowledge is everything

No matter how much will-power and motivation you have and how much disciplined you are, without the right knowledge, all your efforts can go in vain. Whenever you set a goal or try to solve a problem, it's essential that you fully understand what you're after. If you don’t, you are likely to waste your efforts and end up frustrated.

There is a fundamental law of nature which is known as the ‘law of cause and effect’. It states that every effect has a cause and every cause has an effect. So if you want to attain something (an effect), you got to have an understanding of the possible causes that can lead to your desired effect so that you can channelize your efforts by working only on those causes.

For instance, someone with a smoking habit may try for ages to quit smoking and never succeed just because he isn't eliminating the real cause of his addiction. If he realized that he smokes whenever he is stressed or anxious then only by finding some way to deal with this stress and anxiety can he get rid of his addiction.

On the other hand, if he didn't know that coping with stress was the main reason he smoked then he might find it hard to quit. On a stress-free day when he won't feel like smoking, he might claim that he has quit but when stress returns he finds himself wanting to smoke again, unable to resist the urge.

Therefore he gets caught in an endless cycle of hope and disappointment. The only way he can get rid of this habit is by understanding why he’s doing it. Different people smoke for different reasons and all he has to do is figure out his own reason and then fix it.

It’s not just about motivation, willpower, and self-discipline. Though they are important, not knowing what to do renders them useless. Understanding better what you are after is half the battle of attaining it.

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