Few people truly understand the meaning or purpose of action, which is why so many find themselves stuck. Stuck in their careers, stuck in their projects, stuck in their relationships, stuck in their lives.
Everyday we wake up, move about our life, and then head back to bed suffering levels of fatigue that are disproportionate to the progress we’ve made.
To gain traction and move forward, we must be able to clearly see the difference between action and movement, and we must become present to our personal attitudes, fears, and biases towards both.
Without this state of awareness and clarity, many people find themselves weeks, months and even years into projects and initiatives that have done little more than squander time and energy.
Action vs. Movement
Within “action”, there is effort, a meaningful objective, and measurable indicators of progress. It’s purpose is to progress you and those you lead towards your ultimate objective.
Within “movement” there is only effort. Movement doesn’t lead to any meaningful objectives and the only way to measure it is by how tired you feel at the end of the day. It’s purpose is to have you feel like you’re doing something so that you don’t worry about your current and future situations.
The difference between the two is so subtle that it often goes unnoticed. To become an observer of both we must first define what is “meaningful”.
What Is Meaningful
To determine what is “meaningful”, is to first realize that we are all finite. At any given time an individual, team or organization can carry an endless list of possibilities, obligations and opportunities to tackle. After we’ve come to terms with the fact that we’re not going to be able to handle, care for, or seize all of them, we can begin to separate that which MUST be done from that which COULD be done.
It is within these moments of reflection and selection that we’re able to truly define that which truly matters to us as individuals, teams or organizations.
Lets take a meaningful trip together
Lets say you’ve loaded your entire family onto a boat and your destination is a land of freedom, safety and a good life. A meaningful objective.
The journey can be long, tiring, and even treacherous at times.
You notice that, as you tick off the miles of progress, your stores of energy and joy actually increase despite all of the effort expended by you and your crew. A phenomenon that only happens while making progress towards a meaningful objective. A phenomenon that remains a mystery to most of the population. True action begets energy.
As you journey through the sea of life you begin to notice many other vessels veer off course. Friends, family, and coworkers all start heading off to nearby destinations.
They set sail for the Islands of “Too Many Kids Activities”, “Personal Drama”, “Social Media”, “T.V”, “Eating Too Much”, “Answering Your Phone Every Time It Rings”, “Constant Texting”, “The News” and “The Mall”.
You see that all of the other vessels in the ocean are heading towards this group of islands, and only one or two are heading away from them. Since there is safety in numbers, and the ocean can be a scary place on your own, you abandon your original plan and join them.
With mild curiosity you plot a course to the group of islands, push the throttle forward, and spend the next 20 years shuttling back and forth between them. Back and forth, all day, everyday. For decades you burn fuel and time while your ultimate port of call remains stuck over the horizon in a future that is speeding away from you as fast as it is speeding towards you. (That's a bit deep, but think about it).
Sure your ship is moving everyday, but it’s not really getting anywhere. Welcome to the herd!
I know it sounds a bit crazy when you think about it this way... but look around you! For most of us, this describes our lives. What makes it so insane, is that we all know that we’re no longer moving towards a meaningful objective. It's the sound of the engine and the rush of the water that keeps us going despite the mind numbing spinning of our compass's needle.
Now it’s time to break away from all of this and get back on course. To do that we’re going to need to learn a little more about why the captains of these ships allow themselves to become stuck.
In part 2 of this paper we’ll dive into some of the critical moods and attitudes that you’ll need to be aware of if you are to stay in action and avoid mere movement.
Right now we must first begin with awareness:
You know you're in true action because it gives you energy as you go. When have you experienced this phenomenon?
Name three things that you spend time and or energy on everyday that are MEANINGLESS. Meaning that if you just stopped doing them your career, business mission or life would be just fine.
- Name three “Objectives” that you must spend time and energy on everyday that are MEANINGFUL. Meaning that without them your career, or life would significantly suffer without.
Read Part II: HERE