ICS Magazine

Are You an Information Addict?

May 13, 2002

I have discovered, after years of training and consulting with small businesses specializing in providing professional cleaning services, that a sizeable segment of what I refer to as "information addicts" exists in the industry. They are obsessed with gathering technical, marketing and/or motivational information.

Information addicts are people who love to gather knowledge, but who confuse learning with information acquisition. While they consume large amounts of information, they are not really learning that much. They may end up knowing a great deal, but their businesses do not change and their problems do not go away. The business person who hungers for the next self-help book, tape or marketing package, but who is unable to apply it to his or her business, may be an information addict or simply someone who takes great pleasure in acquiring information. The acquisition is a kind of "feel good" activity. Nothing really comes of it. Actual learning occurs when the both learner and his or her behavior are affected by experience and environment. When this fails to occur, all that happens is information acquisition.

Information acquisition is fine as long as the person recognizes this and does not expect his or her business to grow or perform at a higher level because of it. A substantial segment of small-service business people who attend classes and seminars or purchase marketing packages and/or self-help materials use them like a drug, receiving an emotional high from the idea of realizing potential.

This segment of small-business people needs something to latch onto because they have not developed their own inner sense of self-value, leaving them insecure with regard to their businesses. So they turn to affirmations and how-to packages to help maintain a positive outlook. This is not a bad thing, given the alternative. However, the downside is that the person tends to use them as a crutch as they are sinking into the muck of business failure.

Ask yourself these questions and answer them with brutal honesty:

  • Why do I read or buy so much information?
  • What does this do for my business and me?
  • Is it possible that I am an information addict?
  • Could it be that my learning is getting in the way of my personal and business success?

    Learning is very, very important to the information addict, even more important than achieving success as a person or as a business. Small-business people who are information addicts tend to depend on information from instructors, information gurus and motivational experts for energy, stimulation and new content. They are terrific clients for coaching services. The cure for their addiction is in their becoming aware of their situation. Most do not have the slightest notion about what is going on in their personal and business lives as they relate to their information addiction.

    My experience is that about half of the small-business people who fit this description can be helped to recognize their situation and alter their life- and business styles accordingly. The other half, however, are just not able or ready to recognize their situation. Most of them will leave coaching within a short time because they realize at some level that coaching requires them to face facts directly. And that is just not a safe delivery vehicle for the energy/drug/high that they have come to expect in their comfort zone.