|Cover of Do the Work by Steven Pressfield|
I was reading Do the Work by Steven Pressfield, an author whose books inspire and encourage me for every aspect of my life.
Since Pressfield is a writer by profession, he often uses that role as his frame of reference when illustrating a specific point. And so he described the process of writing and idea generation as having two stages: ACTION and REFLECTION.
“Act, reflect. Act, reflect. NEVER act and reflect at the same time. In writing, ‘action’ means putting words on paper. ‘Reflection’ means evaluating what we have on paper.”
I did a double-take because these are the exact same words we use in our own 3-step model for behavior change in our ProStar Coach online learning system: Focus-Action-Reflection
1 – You FOCUS on changing just one thing at a time. Otherwise, you may get overwhelmed and discouraged trying to make a lot of different changes at once.
2 – You decide what you want to do differently, and you take ACTION. You apply the behavior in your life. Don’t worry if it feels a bit uncomfortable at first. When you’re trying something new, it’s natural for it to feel awkward.
This step can be a real stumbling block, especially when you have an established pattern you want to change. Pressfield cautions against over-thinking before taking action. Doing so can cause you to hesitate, which leads to procrastination. Instead, he advises:
“Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act…The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.”
3 – After you’ve taken action, you take time for REFLECTION, to process the event. Experience is the best teacher, but learning doesn’t automatically happen just because you tried something. You have to think about what happened, why it happened that way, what worked and what didn't, the consequences, and what you’d like to do differently next time.
Skipping this step leads to repeated mistakes and failures down the road. Whether you've had a success or setback, evaluate the situation and identify the lessons you can take away from the experience that will help you most going forward.
And then you’ll need to repeat the two steps, Action and Reflection, until the behavior becomes comfortable and automatic.
As Steven Pressfield understands at a very deep level, use these two together and you accelerate your learning process. Use only one, and you slow progress dramatically.
If you want to accelerate your own growth and learning, I encourage you to check out ProStarCoach.
“When we do the work for itself alone, our pursuit of a career (or a living or fame or wealth or notoriety) turns into something else, something loftier and nobler, which we may never even have thought about or aspired to at the beginning. It turns into a practice… A practice may be defined as the dedicated, daily exercise of commitment, will, and focused intention aimed at the achievement of mastery in a field.” - Steven Pressfield in Turning Pro