Know How Vs How To: Eliminating Variables and The Color By Number Approach to Life

“Fun Fact: Color by Number painting kits were originally created in 1951 by Craftmaster brand (Palmer Painting) promising “A beautiful oil painting on your very first try”.  Sales were so slow at first the company “hired” buyers to come to the store and make it appear as if they were flying off the shelves. They went on to sell over 20,000,000 kits.

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Have you ever wondered why you were not able to achieve the same result as someone else?


Have you felt the frustration of having everything you were told you needed to succeed and still came up short?


Why are more people not achieving their goals? Aren’t there plenty of people to learn from who are successful and have the systems and processes that continually allow them to remain successful?


What you’re experiencing is the difference between having the how to vs having the know how.


Paint companies knew this to be a powerful truth in the 1950s, so they began creating a fool proof system for helping others create true masterpieces (many times better than the originals) that made them feel highly accomplished.


Thats the power of transitioning how to into know how.


Let me give you a perfect example.


When I moved my family to Florida in 2013, I was no longer able to enjoy my grandmothers home made pie for Thanksgiving. After two years of missing this incredible delight, I asked grandma if she would be willing to share her recipe with me so I could begin serving this at our Florida feast on Thanksgiving.


After I signed the secret declaration to NEVER tell a soul what is in grandmas recipe, she finally mailed out that actual index card that her original recipe was written on.


Thats like finding a original copy of Think and Grow Rich.


Its as authentic as you can get.


So when grandmas recipe arrived and I studied the ingredients and process, I made a list of items I needed to get from the store and set out to get my contents.


When I arrived back home, I cleared my prep area, gathered all the needed items and began following the instructions perfectly…


(In order to protect my livelihood, the ingredients and measurements used have been removed)


A cup of this here

A teaspoon of that there

High speed mix for two minutes

Let settle for five minutes


Long story short after following that recipe EXACTLY, I pull the pie out ready to dig in.


Now I had to wait a few more minutes for it to cool per grannies instructions so I waited with anticipation.


After waiting no more than two seconds after grannies instructed time, I carved out my slice, slapped it on the plate and went to find my perfect spot where I could nestle in for my after indulgence coma.


I found my spot, licked my chops like Wile E Coyote did before he went after the roadrunner and dug in…





…just wasn’t  





it tasted ok…but it never touched the amazingness that my grandma was able to produce. It was 90% there…but it wasn’t the same.


I couldn’t understand it.


I had the ORIGINAL, EXACT recipe.


I bought the EXACT same ingredients and brand names mentioned on the recipe


I measured everything twice and poured once


The oven was optimal temperature


My timer was JUST calibrated to make sure it was dead on its time cycle


What went wrong?


I called my grandma and went through my troubleshooting checklist.


I verified the exact steps she used to perfect this process and get the result she achieved every time.


After going over everything in frustration she began to chuckle a little.


I caught on to grannies humor although this was no time to be laughing.


I said “granny, what is so funny? Im redlining on my blood pressure and you’re over here laughing”


She responded and said “hunny, you have the how to and until you get the know how, yours will always taste different than mine and even when you get it perfect, it will never be like mine”.


Im glad she got a kick out of this however for me, it was one of those life defeating moments and I wasn’t laughing.


So I responded sharply and asked “why didn’t you send me the know how instead of the how to?  If you knew thats what I needed, why didn’t you send it”.


She continued her chuckle and said “the only way you’ll ever get the know how is to fly me down there and have me stand right next to you and help you. Then, you wont even need the how to cause you’ll have the know how looking over your shoulder”.


I am glad she found humor in all of this although I am seriously going into meltdown mode.


So I said “granny, I am just trying to bake a delicious pie. I don’t have the time or budget to fly you down just to make a pie”.

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She was quick to reply with “well then you will just have to settle for the results you get on your own. The more pies you bake, the more know how you will have. Before long, you wont need the how to any more”.


I stopped for this brief “aha moment” and thought about what she had just said.


Its like she had Tony Robbins sitting next to her telling her what to say next.


BUT IT WAS TRUE. Everything she was telling me was the absolute truth.


I live life for these sort of breakthroughs and granny just served up a fresh dish of BOOM.


I thought about this and how it actually applied to several areas of my life.


Can you relate to this with something you have went through in your own life?


So why is it that we can have the recipe for a great pie or the recipe for success and it STILL requires additional thinking, effort, tweaking and constant adjusting?


In life we have whats called variables.


In humans, we have to deal with emotions, bias and behavior variables.


In business we have to deal with processes, regulations and operations variables.


In cooking we have measurements, ingredient quality and temperatures.


In painting, we have lines to stay in, color matching and water over saturation


These variables allow for inconsistencies to begin finding their way into the process of making progress. In most instances, there are more variables than constants.

The more variables you have, the more difficult you can expect it to become.


When something goes right, you mark it is a constant (meaning you can count on its result every time). When something is still in variable phase, you need to work through every possible source of testing, tweaking and adjusting until you have worked out every possibility that results in a variable.


Painfully so, many of the variables we suffer from are self inflicted.


High expectations


Lack of work ethic


Poor communication skills


Unable to problem solve




and for the record, there are more variables in life than there are constants. So make a good habit of working out all the variables so you have a perfected know how understanding of how it works.


So just exactly how do you get around this energy draining life long process to remain focused on results and the tasks at hand?


Well, fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook) there is a way to navigate through the thickets and get to a place where you can focus on spending your time in the areas of maximum effectiveness. There is no paint by number process for this. You’ll have to figure it out, one variable at a time.


Its called FAIL FORWARD FAST. There is NO shortcut for this.


You take a 90% successful how to process and you work through the last 10% to make a flawless process that allows you to show up and get right to the results you wanted.


If you are training to become a world class athlete and are truly serious about your success, you are looking for shortcuts to get you to the top as soon as you can.


Being that you are extremely dedicated to succeeding, you are spending your life looking to be the best, therefore you need to eliminate EVERYTHING that is not contributing to your success.


Some people spend years (either cause they are not serious or simply do not know better) going through variable after variable before they ever begin to see any form of results at all. Many of them simply did not make a conscious decision on where they chose to invest their time or spent it doing tasks that just don’t deliver results. Some don’t even know that these variables can be worked through, perfected and then systematized.


These are the variables that set people back years of their life and eventually burn them out.


[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]“Your Success Depends on How Soon You Endure The Pain of Change”[/tweetthis]


The faster you move through the variables to develop a plan that works, the sooner you will have the KNOW HOW of what it takes to be a world class athlete.


So what happens when you put a new person who wants to be a world class athlete with an actual world class athlete?


The world class athlete is going to have his own proven, tried and true process that he practices every day to remain the best.


He has spent years perfecting this. Using what worked for him and eliminating what didn’t. (<—— This is the only way to get there)


Someone may have offered him a diet plan, but he didn’t like fish…so he had to deal with the variable.


He could have had someone build a personal early morning workout plan for him, but he didn’t like AM workouts, so he had to adjust the variable.


The same goes for when the world class athlete begins working with the newcomer who wants to be the best.


He is going to get 90% of the how to from the world class athlete he is working with and then he will have to work out the remaining 10% that requires adjustment that will eventually let him get to his own repeatable know how process.


One of the most important variables that is more of a prerequisite to this whole journey is your level of commitment.


If you are not serious about your commitment, you will never make it passed the variables and therefore never put a “recipe” to what worked for you. You must have an intense ability to overcome opposition or you will want to quit sooner than someone who knows their reason at their core.


Its so crucial to understand your level of commitment with anything you take on since we as humans tend to give in at about 40% of our capacity.


Don’t become a victim of the “it didn’t work” mentality. If you invested in it, you must believe at some level it works…you just didn’t DO THE WORK to get the system to WORK FOR YOU.


Even worse, you did the work and stopped short of succeeding. It is much better to live in a little distorted color by number painting than it is to live your whole life in black and white.


If you want to consistently move from How To’s to Know How’s, you simply need to…


  1. find someone who has a proven know how system that they follow and
  2. simply borrow their process to use all that works perfect for you (the 90%) and
  3. then simply tweak (replace or adjust) that which didn’t work and make it work for you


In all my personal experiences, high level interviews, masterminds and especially in situations where I simply forked out money thinking it would just drop the know how in my head, I have never seen know how come before the painful process of perfecting the how to.


(Don’t be negligent like I was and think just cause you pay a personal trainer that you will get  muscles. You still have to show up and do the work. Consistently.)


If you try and manipulate this, you are messing with a principle that will leave you exhausted and disappointed.


You need to form the habit of following the three step process mentioned above and getting yourself used to getting aligned with the variables that line you up for success each time.

If you are struggling to discover your how to or need help defining your know how, simply send me an email at