How to take action


Can you relate to going on a training session, or going to a conference, or maybe even having a great internal meeting and coming away with action points. Or perhaps more accurately described as a list of ‘good intentions!’

Action, of course, is reflected in doing something - Action Changes Things.

In my field as a trainer, I know that I am just sharing information and information is only as good as the action people take as a result of having it.

Herbert Spencer said it well, “The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” So, how can you be more effective at taking action?

There are, of course, many things you can do. First and foremost is to start with yourself and then to surround yourself with action-orientated people - create a culture of action. Do you have a culture in your organisation where people trust each other to act? Do you have an accountability system or partner? These can help hold you to the important actions rather than being swept away in the whirlwind of the urgent.

A few additional thoughts around taking action:

As a trainer I love to ask "How many of you have ever been on a training session and, giving the trainer and content their due, it was good and you left with good intentions but you failed to implement?"

Almost inevitably every hand goes up. I then ask' "What is going to make today's training any different?"

There are 2 roles in a training session. Mine is provide pertinent, relevant information in an engaging and palatable way. Yours is to take down that which applies and then act on it. "Information is only as good as the action that you take as a result of having it." Here are my 5 ACTION suggestions to keep you moving, learning, growing and succeeding:

A - Accountability. When we know someone is going to check on us we are far more likely to do something. Pick the people you surround yourself with carefully (even if you need to look outside your team). Aim for people who are not so "nice" that you know they will not effectively hold you to account. Pick people who stretch you and expect the best from you - who insist that you live up to your personal standards of integrity - When you say you will do something, you get it done!

C - Communication is the oxygen of any organisation. Communicate your goals to the relevant team members/people. Track your goals. Speak up early when you need help and/or are going off course. Communicate with people when they ask you to do things that are not important - avoid the "yes" trap! Successful people know that saying "yes" to something is saying "no" to something else. Let people know what is important for you to do. Think about where do you add the most value and do that! Feedback to your team - feedback is food of champions and ensures greater levels of buy-in and understanding.

T - Time is finite. Make time every day to work on the most important things. I am a huge fan of 'time zoning' - scheduling your tasks in your calendar. When you communicate with your team that you need 30mins-2hrs uninterrupted to achieve "x" it can be a huge motivator, and the focused time can allow you to get into your 'flow'. Look to use your smaller chunks of time better - a highly focused 10-30 mins can achieve a lot more than a interrupted morning.

I - Intentional focus is vital. Have a plan. Know what it is that you want to achieve before you start. Learn to stop after a task to be clear on what to do next. Ask if youneed to do it. Value your time - Be intentional.  Interruptions are the thief of focus and destroyer of productivity, and a lack of focus attracts interruptions.

O - Ongoing action is an amazingly powerful tool. You are the sum of your habits. Getting organised and establishing a routine can be immensely powerful. Could you partner up with someone to achieve a goal - walk 15mins every lunch time, call 5 clients every morning before 10am, plan your following activity every night before leaving work. Regular action done consistently yields large results. Examine your daily habits - which of them are constructive and which ones could do with changing?

N - Now is the time. No excuses - you can make an excuse or make a way! Action is a motivator. Just start.

We look back to learn. We look forward in hope. We live in the present. Watch your mindset as you act. Live. Learn. Improve. Repeat.

Nelson Mandela put it well, "I never fail. I either win or I learn".

Take your learning, apply your learning and succeed!