Tag Archives: taking action

Leadership Success

Why Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Each of us has great ideas.  They show up all the time.  Sometimes in the shower, sometimes while on vacation, sometimes while sitting in traffic, and sometimes while brainstorming with a group of colleagues.  While great ideas are great, doing something with them is even better.  The truly successful and happy among us happen to be those that take the great ideas they’ve generated, and put them into motion.  They take action, not just talk about their stroke of genius.

For leaders, action is one of the most important traits they can embody.  Taking action means getting things done.  It means seizing the initiative.  It conveys momentum, and energy, and creating something new, something that didn’t exist before.  And this excites followers and others who understand that going towards something is always better than sitting around staring at the wall.

Action You

Developing a sound system for dealing with great ideas is necessary for leaders.  This is especially important if you happen to have an active, creative mind that churns-out ideas constantly.  Without a system/process in place to capture the good ideas and then a method through which to deal with them, hundreds of possibilities can be lost.  The opportunity cost of your great ideas is impossible to measure.   In these ideas are the seeds of your success in every aspect of your life.  And that’s pretty valuable.

Taking your great ideas from words to action is the true test of your leadership. Most anyone can follow paths set down by those before them.  To forge a new path takes great ideas and action.   To get there:

Have a system for capturing good ideas.  The best way I’ve found to do this is with a pen and journal.  I’ve not gone anywhere in the past 5 years without one.   In the nearly 2,500 pages I’ve filled are countless ideas, concepts, thoughts, and observations.  Some of the ideas are great, others not so much.  However, they’re all written-down and I don’t have to try and remember them.  Regardless of how great your memory is, don’t believe you can keep your ideas available for access when/where you need them.  Put them in writing.

Do, Delegate, or Delete.  There are hundreds of ideas in my notes.  However, every one of them passed my 3-D filter.  I either immediately implemented the idea (Do), enlisted others to implement my idea (Delegate), or determined the idea wasn’t a good one (Delete).  A filtering process allows you to quickly determine if your idea is worth action and saves you from waffling.

In the end, taking action is simple.  You do or you don’t.  The hard part comes when we introduce doubt, fear, concern about what others will say (or not say) and the outcome being failure.  If you have a great idea, why not take action?  What will happen if you fail?  You’ll learn from the failure and perhaps, have even more great ideas.  You’ll also be taking action and not just merely talking about it.

“Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.”  Benjamin Franklin

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Answering the Calling

Each of us has a calling in life, however, for some reason it often gets dropped or disconnected.  Sometimes the calling gets dropped by the lure of power, prestige or money.  Sometimes the calling get’s rerouted due to outside influences from parents, friends, or seemingly well-meaning teachers and mentors.  For whatever the reason, if the calling has been disconnected, then the challenge becomes finding the calling again, answering it, and then acting.

Knowing When There’s a Calling

Before delving into how re-establish your calling, how do you know what a calling is?  What does it look and feel like?  The simplest definition I can offer, is that a calling is a strong urge toward a particular way of life or vocation…perhaps a profession, occupation or specific art.  I like to think of a calling as those acts undertaken that make us come alive fully, every moment of every day.

As an engineer and a military officer, I’m well-steeped in the concept of a calling being associated with a way of life or profession.  Both “engineer” and “military officer” are long-standing professions/ways of life requiring strong dedication, sacrifice, and trade-offs.  Other professions such as doctors, authors, musicians, teachers, etc., require the same levels of dedication, sacrifice, and trade-offs.  Professions are often thought of as “callings”, and for some they are a calling.  However, if you’re a professional and it’s not making you come fully alive every moment of every day, then you likely not answering your calling.

The bottomline is that you’ve answered your calling when you operate every moment in life with purpose, ease, and passion.  When operating in the realm of your calling, the dedication, sacrifice, and trade-offs don’t actually exist.  Because from your point of view, you’re simply doing what you were meant to do.

Reconnecting Your Calling

If your calling has been re-routed or dropped, how do you reconnect?  By defining what makes you come alive.  And the best way I know to divine this information is through self-inspection, thought, and time.  The good thing is that it’s not impossible if you simply start the process.  The following tips will get you going.

Notice What Fascinates/Attracts You.  Let’s say you’re an engineer, however, you’re fascinated with ancient antiquities and Asian art.  In fact, you spend every moment of free time time researching these subjects, you lose track of time when you do, and you become über-passionate when talking about the topic.  Serious hobby or a calling?  If you truly enjoy something, it might be your calling.  Take notice of where you spend your time when you’re fully engaged.

Take Stock of Your Skills and Values.  Make a list of 25 of your skills.  Then segregate these into three categories:  “Expert”, “Dabbler”, “Novice”.  Within your “Expert” category, rank order these 1 to N.  Now, does your current profession/career include these elements?  If not, what one would?  Similarly, write a list of your values, or those values you hold to be paramount.  Are you fulfilling these values in what you’re doing right now?  If not, what would you need to be doing to honor them?  This wil help illuminate your calling.

Journal About Your Calling.  Getting benefit from journaling takes time and writing…a lot of it.  If you’re not prone to writing daily then this may be a tough nut to crack.  But there’s no more certain way to unlock your inner thoughts than to put them on paper.  This exercise isn’t a daily re-hash of what happened in your life, it’s an opportunity to capture your musings about what you truly enjoy doing, what your ideal life looks like, and what you want to do, be, or have.  Given time, you’ll begin seeing recurring themes, and this will assist you in reconnecting to your calling.

Take Action.  You’re making lists, taking inventory of what generates excitement for you, and journaling.  You’ve been at this for six-to-twelve months and have some good ideas of what might reconnect you with your calling.  Time to take action.  Unless you do something to move yourself towards your calling, all of the lists, journaling and thought is worth nothing.

In the end, we each seek happiness. As professionals, we invest the majority of our waking hours engaged in work.  So it might as well be spent on something we love doing…it might as well be spent on our calling.  Putting your life’s work into someone else’s interpretation of your calling, or continuing onward in a profession you settled for isn’t the way to go through life.  Reconnecting to your own calling then answering it…that is the way.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”   Rumi

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