Let’s Talk About…Action

Read the books, went to the events…but forgot to actually do anything? Sounds familiar, says Davina Greene.

Davina Greene is The Personal Strategy Coach. 
Interested in building your Personal Strategy? For a first-of-its-kind self-management experience, coming soon, keep an eye on this site!

We’ve heard it a million times before: action speaks louder than words. But have we taken heed? In truth, I could fill pages with all of the reasons for which people undertake less focussed, truly beneficial action than they could; instead, I’ll spare you the thesis and select a few common ones to get you thinking about you.

Let’s start with information volume: as a society, we are drowning in content. Beyond even the events and books, think of how many blog posts pass you by on social media every day. So little of the content is new – the marketers have told everyone that ‘content creation’ is critical, but we’ve ended up with content repetition instead (unless you’re reading scientific journals). Which is fine, if you can handle it very selectively; many cannot.

Next, let’s consider our need to fit in and ‘keep up’. We have so many options in life, and yet we often end up keeping a cautious eye on friends, neighbours, colleagues and celebrities, trying to mimic actions that aren’t necessarily rooted in our own Vision. The result? We don’t really know what we want anymore. Yet at the same time, we want everything. So it’s only natural that, more often than not, our brains can’t inspire our bodies to action.

In an increasingly busy world, we (quite rightly) seek ways to protect ourselves – sometimes consciously, sometimes not. Not doing anything new is a great way of making sure you feel safe, comfortable and all-knowing, isn’t it? On the other hand, a pre-meditated defence mechanism is often to take any old action. You can always defend volume, right? “Did you fill out the forms to set up your new business today?”, “No, but I did the ironing, went for a walk, fed the dog, collected the kids, helped a neighbour with something trivial, cooked a Michelin-calibre meal for no particular reason….”. Eh…OK. Well done, I guess.

Convenience and instant gratification have become joint monarchs of modern society. We want to accelerate from ‘idea’ to ‘achievement’ in 0-60 seconds. The Big Secret, the ‘magic wand’, will finally be divulged in the next blog we read (won’t it?). The result? Less focussed action, more waiting around for quick-fixes and easy answers. TV talent shows, and reality TV in general, may have ruined the “j” word for us, but surely we can’t start focussing solely on the destination just because of Simon Cowell!

Sometimes, in our quest for action, we are quite simply surrounded by the wrong people – the people who drain our energy, who are terrified of our potential success, who are envious of creativity they themselves don’t have, who are most comfortable with people who are ‘the same’. Distancing ourselves, even temporarily, from them can be one of the hardest things of all to do.

In short, we so rarely take effective, life-enhancing action because we so rarely take the time to decide what it is that we want and to conquer all of the reasons why we’d normally stand in our own way in trying to achieve it.

The first difference between the ‘achievers’ of this world and everyone else is that they know what they want. The second: they make a commitment to achieving it. Finally – and most critically – they take the necessary action. They invest in the tools needed. They perhaps find it painful to pay for expertise, but know that it brings results. The risks, stresses and strains of putting the project together pale into insignificance when compared to the potential outcomes of having taken real action. Sure, not all roads to success are direct. Sometimes it’s more ‘onwards and sideways’ than ‘onwards and upwards’. And that’s OK. It’s still movement, still learning.

In the end, reading, listening, and information-gathering is just prep. Strategic thinking, future focus and action-orientation are the key tools of the successful. Care to join them?

Key points

  • Ask yourself: How much of the information you’re taking in is actually news to you?
  • Ask yourself: To what actions are you committed, right now?
  • Ask yourself: What framework are you working within, to check ongoing alignment of actions with desires?
  • Ask yourself: How do you monitor your achievements?
  • Read a little, listen a little, do a lot. Repeat.

 

This article was first published in Irish Tatler magazine.