As I was driving through an unfamiliar city this past week, I came across an old book store. I had a few moments to I stopped and went in to see if they had any interesting titles. Wouldn’t you know it, right there on the shelf was a dusty old book that caught my eye. Within a few minutes, I had purchased the book and slipped it into my suitcase.

Once I got home, I pulled it out and then asked myself “when are you going to read this book?” I realized that while this book looked very interesting and probably had a ton of great leadership material, I would probably end up on another dusty book shelf and never get read.

I then made a great discovery about myself. I collect more books than I read. I had officially become a collector. This got me to thinking about other areas where I might be a collector, after all if I did this with books maybe there are other areas of my life that are filled with dusty stuff.

What I came to realize is that collecting things can also describe what we do with knowledge that is never put into practice. Let me explain.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time with a great group of young leaders to discuss a few leadership principals. During that get-together, I learned a valuable leadership lesson myself.

I had provided each group of young leaders with specific stories about characters in history. I asked them to read the stories and share one leadership lesson that we each could walk away with and put into practice.

As each group began to share what they had learned, they each recited the historical facts, successes and/or mistakes made by each person. Only after much prodding were they able to give a concrete action step that they would be able to take away from the story.

I wrote a blog awhile back where I spoke on putting the steps together to get from point A to point B. I remember stating that many people do not have the capacity to come up with an action plan to accomplish goals. This is not as much a flaw as it is a lack of being able to take the big picture down into bite size pieces.

The point I am trying to make is that many of us, me included, read and witness many great leadership lessons every day. The problem is that we fail to put those lessons into action. We understand that we are to care about our team, we understand that we need to encourage, we understand that we are to give our team all of the necessary resources, the problem is that while we understand these things they are kept on the dusty bookshelf marked leadership.

The question that I have for you today centers around you being a collector or a user. Are you using the leadership skills you are reading and learning or, are they just taking up space on your dusty bookshelf?

This week’s challenge, go out and put at least one leadership principle that you have learned into practice. Become a practitioner and leave the collecting and research to someone else.