“Take action. Success is not guaranteed, but inaction will guarantee failure.” – Ken Poirot
There are so many opportunities to take action in today’s world that sometimes we do nothing. A hundred things seem to be coming our way at any given moment. Maybe we’re overwhelmed, or maybe we’re afraid to fail or make the wrong decision, or maybe it’s something different altogether. Too often when we have the opportunity to act, we freeze up and end up failing to act at all.
Sometimes I think part of the reason is that we don’t really know how to take action effectively. We’ve all been in situations where we feel like we worked really hard and had nothing to show for it. We’re taught from an early age that we have to work harder, but lots of hard working people don’t succeed.
So the next time you have the opportunity to act, whether it’s on some big issues or something relatively inconsequential, think about taking these 3 steps toward effective action:
Gain a clear understanding of where you are NOW. This might seem simple, but too often we rush off to try & fix problems, when in reality we’re only attacking a symptom of the real problem. What is the real problem? Ask lots of questions and do lots of listening. It’s hard to know which way to turn if you don’t know which way you’re facing.
Clearly define WHERE you want to be. It’s also hard to know which way to turn if you don’t know which way you’re going. What is it you’re really trying to accomplish? What is really your desired outcome in this situation? Make sure you can not only clearly picture the end, but that you can also articulate that end to those around you. You’ll probably need some help; make sure the help knows the destination too.
Be clear and specific about HOW you’re going to make it happen. What are the specific things that have to happen to get you WHERE you want to be? And I mean specific. ‘Try to grow our business’, isn’t specific. What are the actual actions which somebody can be held accountable for? Once you have those clearly laid out, decide what needs to happen first. What needs to happen in the next 30 days? 60 days? 90 days? You don’t have to do all 500 steps at once. What are the first 5? And start working.
It’s easy to feel paralyzed or overwhelmed these days. You have to have a repeatable process for taking action and starting change. There’s a lot of work behind all of this, but at its core, these are the 3 things that will get you started. So get started. It’s the only chance you have.