Simply knowing how to do something is not enough


Between 2006 and quite recently I laboured under the false impression that you can do anything if you just know how. You can set up a website – if you just know how. You can write a novel – if you know how. You can make money in any of a dozen ways – if you can just lay your hands on the right PDF that will explain everything to you in seventeen easy steps. You can create your own business you can manage from home – if you just had the right set of DVDs that will explain the process to you. And so I can go on.

Needless to say, I started gathering with characteristic passion information in various forms and from any self-proclaimed tutor who promised hand on chest to reveal all the secrets known only to the inner circle.

Ten years later, I know more than ever. These days I know not only about the European explorations of the fifteenth century or the Byzantine Empire or the First or Second World War, I also know how to make a website in less than thirty minutes, from idea to someone in Paraguay or Zimbabwe can access it and read what I have published (if I can write something that quickly). I know how to make money by doing stuff for other people. I know how to make money by buying and selling the probability that a particular horse will win a particular race before the race has even started. And, frankly speaking, a lot of other things.

But – I have also learned, to my great consternation, that simply knowing how to do something is not enough.