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The funeral you probably missed.

Very few people came to the funeral.

It was a quiet ceremony without a lot of fan fare.

No one spoke at the service because we were all so glad to see it go.

Death is never easy but in this case it was, for the funeral was not for a person, but rather a phrase.

Years ago, the phrase “I don’t know how to do that” died.

It had been with us for years. I remember in the 1980s and early 1990s saying it often. When I ran into a problem as a teenager I could proclaim with great certainty “I don’t know how to do that!”

Perhaps my mom would drive me to the library so that I could sort through books or research things slowly. Perhaps there was someone in my circle of friends who knew the answer, but sitting at home, both of those sources of information were seemingly out of reach. I couldn’t quickly contact friends unless they were sitting right next to the phone which was attached to their house. I couldn’t easily connect with experts from around the world. You could give up so much easier in the 1990s by just saying, “I don’t know how to do that.”

Until the Internet murdered that phrase.

You can no longer ever say, “I don’t know how to do that,” because you have the means to figure it out.

Don’t know how to write a book? That phrase brought up 783 million results in 0.57 seconds on Google.

Don’t know how to file an LLC? That phrase brought up 189 million results in 0.70 seconds on Google.

Don’t know how to lose weight? That phrase brought up 117 million results in 0.37 seconds on Google.

You know how to learn anything you feel called to do.

You just have to do it.

That’s not easy. Things that matter never are. All the knowledge in the world is just wasted data unless you hustle.

So the question isn’t, “What do you do if you don’t know how to do something?” That question died a few years ago too.

The question is, “What are you going to do now that you know there’s a way to do virtually anything?”

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff

25 Comments

  1. Jon, you found me out. I suffer from the “never having done it before” syndrome. It’s paralyzing. Thank you for creating a community that jumps in with both feet to show me what I don’t know. I would not be in this place without them. Together we are better.

  2. Is the internet on trial for this? Great and well written article like always! It’s so true. What’s stopping us? Us!

  3. Good thoughts. Imagine with me the response time to a search when we call on God! Crushes the nano-second times of Google….just saying!

  4. Trent McCool

    I was a hunting and fishing guide in Alaska for a season. Our cabin was 30 river miles from the nearest village and the only way to get to us was by boat or plane. One day, the motor went out on one of the boats. The head guide / owner walked by me as he said, “Trent, you need to fix the boat motor.” To which I promptly replied, “I don’t know how to fix a boat motor.”

    He quickly turned around, put the tip of his nose within 15 inches of mine, pointed at the engine, and replied, “I didn’t ask you if you knew how to fix an engine. I told you to fix it!” On that day in 1999, the phrase “I don’t know how to do that” and/or “I can’t” was quickly erased from my vocabulary as I worked on that boat motor until it started up and I took it out on the river as I payed my respects at the funeral of those phrases in my life.

  5. What a timely post. You’re absolutely correct in regards to you don’t have any excuse anymore.

    I myself wanted to start a FB group. I learned how and now 90 people are inspiring others to get 10,000 Steps everyday.

    You inspired me when we met awhile back and I’ll never forget how your words of wisdom have changed my life!!

  6. And for the sarcastics in the room, we use http://lmgtfy.com/ (Let Me Google That For You) instead of saying, “Let me thumb through the Dewey Decimal System for you.”

  7. Jon, I was wondering is Jenny still coming out with her book? I’ve been scouring your blog, amazon etc and can’t seem to find it. I just wondered if I missed an update on when it was coming. I’m sure she’s crazy busy being a mom, being married to a dreamer etc but we’re totally looking forward to her book!!

    • Jon Acuff Jon Acuff

      Great question! That book is still in progress. We realized that the Acuff house can only handle releasing one book at a time so when we got the opportunity to release Do Over, we paused the being married to a dreamer book for a little while!

      • Sounds good 🙂 I can totally understand that 🙂 We’ve had to pause many projects in our house realizing you can only ship one dream at time.

        So question on your book? How do I get your sample chapter if I’m already subscribed to your email list? Should I subscribe again? Can’t wait to read it!

  8. I marvel at the information available at my fingertips as long as I can connect through wi-fi on my phone. Even in Sunday School, if a question comes up about a bit of information. all I have to do is google. I know some folks turn up their noses at Wikipedia, but I have found Wikipedia right much more often than wrong; plus, they list their sources, which is something self-styled pundits often fail to do. There is Bible Gateway, which gives many different translations and version of Scriptural passages, which can generate lively discussions in mixed-age groups. That is just the beginning. There is always the trap of ” I know it’s true because I saw it on the Web.” We had the same issue with newspapers, radio, TV – We know God’s Word is true, which is the only unimpeachable source.

  9. Pat

    Knowledge doesn’t mean ability. I know how vegetables/flowers are grown, but I’ve never managed to grow anything worth eating. I know how to sew, but other than buttons and maybe hems, you wouldn’t want to wear a shirt I made from scratch. The key is not to be able to do everything, but to figure out what your skills and abilities are and than to make the most of them.

    • LHA

      I very much agree. 🙂 Knowing the steps and having the physical dexterity and mental capacity aren’t at all the same thing.

  10. What a great post and so very true Jon! Recently I read in a book that with all of the information available on line the only things you may not be able to do are those that require specific physical capabilities. If all it requires is learning then we no longer have an excuse. Thanks again Jon!

  11. Alison

    I still say that, but I am 62, so it is OK. I call my daughter and she says, “Google it,” and so I do, but for some reason, I have to have my daughter tell me that I can do it.

  12. Diana Schmitt

    Ouch! I just used this phrase last night! Although I vowed “no excuses” in 2015, I guess I had hoped that “I don’t know how to do that” was just enough distance from an excuse. Busted! Same thing! Thanks for calling me out, Jon, whether you realized it or not.

  13. Very true indeed! I love to YouTube something when I don’t know how to do it – especially when it comes to website related things that seem so overwhelming to me (as I don’t have an interest in knowing them;-).

  14. Man all my excuses just out the window just like that! Thanks for outing us all and we now have to be accountable.

    Actually without Google, DnB and 30days I would not accomplish near as much of my dreams…thanks Jon!

  15. LHA

    Gonna play devil’s advocate here. 😉

    While it’s true that there are gazillions of sites that tell you how to do a particular thing (whatever it is), there can also be an amazing lack of information if one is looking for one particular thing, i.e., that handy short cut for Photoshop that you just can’t quite remember that’s not on all of the other Photoshop shortcut web pages (which, incidentally, all those pages seem to have the EXACT SAME INFORMATION – in the SAME FORMAT!!). So sometimes searching for a rather obscure thing on the web can be a bit difficult.

    But, in general, yes, the Internet has a lot of info. 🙂 That being said, I found actual Photoshop classes far, FAR more helpful than googling “How to Photoshop”, because there’s still something to be said about interpersonal communication, and learning from someone who knows what they’re talking about. (A LOT of online PS tutorials are for older versions, or are missing some essential piece of information, or are just flat-out confusing.)

    Whew! Pardon my rant; I love the Internet…..when it does what I think it’s supposed to do. 😛

  16. Jim

    Is this true? I’d be surprised if I could learn how to paint in the style of Rossetti, or become a leading expert in Hittite or something, based on the Internet alone.

    And there may be millions of people telling you how to write a book on Google, but even a fairly cursory study will reveal that a vast amount of the “advice” you’ll find there is seriously flawed.

  17. 22044

    Yeah, I don’t know about this. There’s a lot of junk out there. But I appreciate the point.

  18. Steve Timmons

    Thanks for writing this, Jon. It’s easy to just use the internet for trivial things like research “historical” specifics of Middle Earth/Star Wars, catch up on celebrity gossip, make memes, look at cute photos of kittens and babies on Instagram, and the list goes on. It is quite amazing how there is an abundance of knowledge we daily take advantage of that is right at our fingertips.

  19. KC

    Haha! Love it. Such a great spin on this topic.

    No more excuses.

    Also, can’t tell you how many arguments we’ve avoided by pulling out our phones and using Google to find the answer.

    Sort of makes you wonder why people still pay so much for college?
    (I might be a little bitter about student loans)

  20. I didn’t know that. Just kidding. Great post!

  21. Unless it involves tying knots. Without a real live person there, I don’t think I could ever learn to tie knots, or to knit, or crochet. Something about how string/rope/yarn works, I can’t figure it out from photos or videos.

    I’ve learned a lot from the internet. And I’ll admit to being that person who’s like, “Oh come on, you can do it! Just Google it, find some videos: the information is out there!” I fixed a power window on my car, thanks to YouTube. I can drill and spackle and strip finish and hang all kinds of stuff up in my house.

    But there are some things that require a real live person. For instance, I would NOT recommend learning a musical instrument from a video, especially if you don’t already play any instruments. It’s something you need feedback for, someone who can adjust the lessons to you and who can answer your questions. (Though if there’s no way you could learn a musical instrument otherwise, then knock yourself out. Better than nothing!)

    The internet is great, and a wonderful way to learn, but it’s not the only way. And nothing – NOTHING – beats having a good teacher who will patiently show you what to do, to tell you honestly when you’re wrong, to encourage you when you’re discouraged, and to praise you when you succeed.