Showing posts with label Take Action. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Take Action. Show all posts

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Do the Work

Cover of Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
The words leaped off the page at me.

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

Monday, April 29, 2013

Take Initiative and You’ll Stand Out

My daughter Alison is now a successful broker in a financial services company. But when she was first hired several years ago, she started out as a sales assistant working for four brokers.

Alison had only been there a few months when she came up with a questionnaire for the brokers to use when meeting with their clients. Its purpose was to uncover needs that the clients might have – to make sure the broker discussed other services the firm could provide. No one asked her to do this. She was simply on the look-out for ways to make her brokers more effective, and she wasn't afraid to suggest something new. It turns out the brokers loved the form, told one of the executives about it, and he encouraged all the brokers to use it. Alison developed a reputation as a star assistant throughout the company because she not only got great ideas – she translated them into action.

But not everyone does this. As someone who’s hired many people over the years, I have found it’s the rare person who takes this kind of initiative. The vast majority wait to be told. Maybe they think it’s safer. You can’t get into trouble if you don’t take unnecessary risks. Or maybe the thought of trying something new or different never even enters their head.

And yet, seeing something that needs to be done and then doing it without being told is one of the most prized behaviors any employer, professional association, club or family could want from its members.

It’s a type of personal leadership that makes someone truly stand out from the crowd. While everyone else is standing around waiting for orders, the person who takes initiative is busy looking around to see what needs to be done…and then kicks into action.

Ask people who've achieved great success, and they’ll tell you that most of the things they attempt don’t work. But they don’t let that stop them. They keep trying other things because they’re confident that at least a small percentage of the things they do will work. They know that the only way to get momentum going is by taking action.

If you find yourself lacking ambition, energy or just plain gumption, it’s worth pondering these insights from British playwright George Bernard Shaw:
"The people who get on in this world are the people who look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

"You don't learn to hold your own in the world by standing on guard, but by attacking, and getting well-hammered yourself." 

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing." 
If you want to make a real difference in the communities you’re involved with – in both your personal life and your career – start taking initiative more often. Your efforts will get noticed, and you’ll develop a solid reputation as a person who gets things done.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stop Procrastinating and Get Started NOW

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” - John F. Kennedy, American president
Do you ever avoid taking action because of fear of failure, concern about making mistakes, and anxiety about what others will think of you? Or maybe you simply lack sufficient motivation.

If something is important to you and you keep putting it off – whether it’s finishing a project, calling a prospective client, making time for your family or getting physically fit – you need to get honest with yourself.

WHAT is holding you back from taking the first step?

Take a minute to write down your answer to this question. Right now.

If your response includes blaming other people or your circumstances, I challenge you to dig deeper to uncover the real reasons.

It’s easy to make excuses and much more difficult to be totally honest with yourself. The truth is, no one is holding you back but you.

When you fail to do what you know you could be doing, there’s a greater consequence than simply the “thing” not getting done. Now you must also deal with the impact this procrastination has taken on your self-esteem. You lose self-respect when you don’t fulfill a commitment you’ve made to yourself.

The problem then is that your damaged self-image becomes even less motivated to take action because of the bad feelings associated with the previous cycle of intention and inaction.

So what do you do?

Commit to taking one action. Do something you can feel good about. And give yourself credit for taking that step. Celebrate your accomplishment, however small, and take time to experience positive feelings. When you need to take the next step, recall how good you felt after the first one.

Small successes, when acknowledged, strengthen your resolve and your self-respect. And your chances for building momentum have also increased dramatically.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt, American president
"Only he who does nothing makes a mistake." - French Proverb
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized.” - Sun Tzu, Chinese philosopher