Francis Bacon coined the popular phrase “Knowledge is power” about 400 years ago.  Unfortunately, he left out two very important words. He should have said, “Knowledge acted upon is power.”

Here’s a sad truth, you can spend your days absorbing knowledge and becoming very intelligent, but if you don’t do anything with that knowledge, you’re no better off than somebody else who sat around eating popcorn and watching reruns of Fantasy Island. 

I have no doubt that most of you reading this know what you need to do to be more successful in this business. You’ve been to national sales conferences and due-diligence meetings. You’ve read books and articles about how to build your businesses. You’ve heard top coaches and consultants speak. You’ve networked with your peers. And, of course, you have your own personal experiences to draw upon.

Now, ask yourself, how much of what you know you should be doing are you actually doing on a daily basis? Is it 10%?  20%? Even if it’s 90%, that remaining 10% could be the difference between a good business and a great business. It could be the difference between an average life and an extraordinary life.

Acting on your knowing requires you to step out of your comfort zone—and that’s never easy. Consequently, it’s no surprise that few people ever reach their full potential in business or life.   

Find Your Motivation

Where will you find the motivation to step out of your comfort zone and start closing this knowing-doing gap? You can find it in several places, however; I think there is one source that trumps all the others. It’s our quest for excellence—the desire we all have to perform to our potential and to maximize our capacity to achieve and to contribute using our God-given talents.

This quest for excellence is what drives an artist to keep perfecting their painting until it matches the vision in their head. It’s what drives the greatest athletes to keep practicing their sport until they transcend it. And it’s what drives an author to obsess over the right word or phrase until it delivers the desired message and invokes the right feeling in the reader.

Over the years, psychologists have called this motivating force by various names. Alfred Adler called it “striving for perfection.” Abraham Maslow called it “self-actualization.” No matter what you call it, being on a quest for excellence in all you do can give you the drive, the determination, and the energy you need to push through barriers, to convert your knowing into doing and to achieve peak results.

Remember, good enough usually isn’t.

Four Ways to Generate Results

So how do you turn your quest for excellence into actual results in the real world? Here’s the first of four ways. 

1. Create a compelling vision for your future.

This is a brief narrative which describes your ideal life. It encompasses your business life, your personal aspirations and the mark you want to leave in the world. Done deeply, your compelling vision of the future becomes the gas fueling your engine of burning desire. To make the most of it, type it onto a PowerPoint slide, add inspiring pictures, print it in color and then take it to your print shop and laminate it. Begin your day by reading it and it will fill you with energy and send you on your way.

I feel so strongly about the importance of having a compelling vision that I’d like to give you a free tool to help you develop your own. It’s a 10-page booklet containing a sample compelling vision and a series of thought-provoking questions that will seamlessly lead you to your compelling vision. Visit the Peak Advisor Alliance site and enter the code: “vision” to download your free copy. Now that you know about it—close that gap and do it!

In part 2 of this column, I’ll share the remaining three ways to turn your quest for excellence into actual results in the real world plus identify three traps that can trip you up on your way to implementation. 

Steve Sanduski, CFP, is the managing partner of Peak Advisor Alliance, a financial advisor coaching and practice management resources organization. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author and co-author of Tested in the Trenches: A 9 Step Plan for Building and Sustaining a Million-Dollar Financial Services Practice. For more from Sanduski, visit his blog. Also visit here for more information on where Sanduski will be presenting live content to advisors.