In part one of “Action and actually taking some”, we covered the critical differences between action and movement.
Within “action”, there is effort, a meaningful objective, and measurable indicators of progress. When we are in action, one of two things is occurring. We’re either making obvious progress towards our objective, or we are obtaining the information, knowledge, and capacity required to make that progress happen.
Within “movement”, there is only effort. Movement doesn’t lead to a meaningful objective. Instead, it simply makes you feel like you are doing something so that you no longer have to worry about your ultimate objective. Movement simply acts as a pacifier, leading you to believe that you are making progress, when in actuality, you are simply keeping yourself busy.
Believe it or not, most people already know that they spend a bulk of their day moving, but getting nowhere. It’s actually a very obvious phenomenon. What’s not obvious is why we spend so much time in “Movement” and so little in “Action”.
The common sense answers are busyness, lack of motivation, and general apathy. But in truth, the primary reason many of us get and remain stuck is simply because we lack the information, knowledge, and capacity required to progress.
Remember our definition of action: powerful, uncommon, and valuable action is made up of two parts. Of course we need to take effective steps towards our objectives (obvious), but to do this we must get good at recognizing when we lack the information, knowledge, and capacity required to do so (not obvious). We need to take action to enable action, else we spend life stuck.
Action To Enable Action
It used to be that one could set an objective, design a clear strategy leading towards that objective, and by simply checking off the “to-do list”, they would win. A simple paradigm that worked well during times when things either didn’t change, or changed very slowly. An assembly line of execution so to speak. No longer does this environment exist, and the common roles and paradigms of professionals and individuals that were designed around these “assembly line strategies” are no longer effective.
In today’s highly competitive and dynamic world, things move fast. So fast that the information, knowledge, and capacities that were relevant at the beginning of a project can become obsolete even before the project is complete. For this reason, to reach a meaningful objective, your plans must account for trial and error, and allow for the acquisition of new skills and capacities along the way. The process is not very predictable and is seldom straightforward. It requires high levels of confidence, self-esteem, and patience.
The Interim Situation:
Often, we try to remain comfortable and avoid the transition from movement to real action because frankly, it’s scary to embark on a journey that you knowingly lack the ability and information required to complete. It takes courage.
Now of course, recognizing the need for additional tools and skills is only half the battle. To make any progress requires us to enter a sort of purgatory…. A temporary situation in which the second hands of progress seem to freeze while the hour hands of demand & expectations seem to accelerate. We call this the interim situation.
It’s essential that we remember that to produce anything exceptional and unique, we’ll be doing something that may have never been done before and time will be required to learn and develop the information, knowledge, and capacity required.
Usually, the time required takes longer than what was either expected or desired, and as time passes and pressures mount, the excitement of the idea begins to fade. The unplanned cost of the interim situation becomes too much for many of us to handle, and the project is abandoned. Then another “Flavor of the month” appears in hopes of providing the magical and mythical solution. The cycle begins.
The net result of all of this is a smattering of unfinished projects. These projects remain unfinished not because they were never possible to begin with. They remain unfinished because, out of fear, frustration, or the perpetual quest for sheer comfort, the interim situation was either skipped entirely, or was abandoned along the way.
I’ve witnessed far too many individuals (myself included) and organizations thwart their success due to their inability to master or maintain interim situations. We must learn to “Stick with it”.
3 Ways To Stick With It:
To be candid, our culture of comfort has left the majority of us lacking the skills and confidence needed to enter into, and remain in the interim situations required to live a good life. For those who learn to master them, this is good news as they become the few and the valuable.
Here are 3 quick tips to help get you started:
Where you’ve been
Where you are
Where you’re going
Why you’re going
Often, we simply need to remember that we are in an interim situation, and that it will not go on forever.
2) Embrace failure:
Most people lack the self esteem and confidence required to embrace failure - they’ve not had enough experience developing new and difficult skills and capabilities to realize that each failure is step towards greatness. Realize that failure is a result of truly trying something difficult, and understand it is a learning experience from which you’ll grow to reach new and unprecedented levels of action.
3) Don’t fear the wrong path:
Often, we need to travel a distance down a path before we can determine if it will get us where we need to go. We all want to progress closer to our goal, but if we’ve taken a wrong turn, then progress means we must turn around and walk back. Don’t think of it as taking a step backwards - instead, embrace it as a lesson learned and move on.
Remember: In today’s dynamic world, most of your actions will not lead you directly to your purpose. If you're wise and persevere, all of your actions will produce the knowledge and skills you need to get there.
When we lack the necessary information, knowledge, and capacity to remain in action, we can all fall into a life of busied movement.
Often, we think the answer to making progress lies purely in execution with a focus on discipline. In today’s dynamic and innovative world, progress must begin with problem solving, and to do that we must master the interim.
What business or personal project have you left undone because you or others lacked the information, knowledge and capacity to care for it?
How do you recognize when you’re in an “Interim Situation” and how do you manage it?
What other questions does this topic bring up for you?
What additional topics would you like to see in the future?
Questions: Are designed to be answered both in the comment section to engage and learn from others as well as in the classes I teach.
Comments: My purpose is to deeply study and write about what impacts our ability to live a good life and lead others to do the same. I read every comment but respond by creating more papers based on what I learn from my readers. Please leave your thoughts below.