Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To do list: Take Action

Over the last few years the trend of "positive thinking" and "the law of attraction" has been all the rage.  Does a positive attitude really make a difference? Winston Churchill said "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."  Thomas Jefferson went even further by saying "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."  and perhaps one of my favorite quotes of all time "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." - Zig Ziglar

Having a positive attitude is well known to being an asset to reaching success, but is that all we need?  I feel that we have put an awful lot of emphasis on having a positive attitude at all times and feel if we can just be positive and believe enough, good things will come to us.  Well...you can believe and believe and believe and visualize and visualize and visualize fancy cars, stacks of money, a beautiful mate, successful anything you want, but unless you live at the bottom of a really steep hill these things are not just going to fall on you because you believe they will.  There are two other things we need that bring what we want into our life: a burning desire and taking action. "Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything." - Napoleon Hill.  It is this desire that will move us to action "You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great." - Les Brown, "He who has begun is half done." Horace.
As stated above I do believe that the proper mental attitude is essential for success, but I feel we have also been led to believe we must always have a positive attitude and this to me is not correct.  If we are starring at huge credit card debt, a dead end job, and a life we did not want for our selves simply being positive and falsely going through life with a big smile on our face saying "life is grand" is not the answer.  We need to see our situation for what it is, a mess, and recognize its time for a change.  We need this desire Napoleon Hill talks about as our starting point for achievement, but I feel we cannot have this desire if we tell ourselves "life is grand" when in fact we are 60 days late in our bills.  The sooner we acknowledge our situation for what it really is the sooner we can instill a desire for change.  Nothing changes without action, if you want to change your life you need to make changes in your life. "If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living".  - Gail Sheehy

What if we have the desire, we want to make a change and take action but just don't feel the motivation to do so? Have you ever wanted to start an exercise program or rather felt you needed to start an exercise program? Many of us do at this time of year.  If you waited to feel inspired to exercise you may wait a lifetime, but once you actually exercise you feel better and think "Why did I resist working out? I know I always feel better afterwards."  From this example we see that it was actually action that let to motivation.  "Take action even when you don't know what to do" - Jack Canfield. “Action is the foundational key to all success.” - Pablo Picasso. A wise friend once said “It’s only by starting to walk on the path that you can know for sure if you have taken the correct path”.  Taking actions gets us moving,  the first step is the most important. Newton’s first law of Motion states: “A body in motion remains in motion unless it is acted on by an external force. If the body is at rest it remains at rest”.  Once you get started it is easier to stay in motion, but the most difficult part is that first movement. Once you are moving, define exactly where you want to go and continue moving in that direction.

Ok so what if we have a desire, we have a goal, we have a plan, we are motivated but we are still not getting what we want.  I see this a lot especially with those wanting to start a business.  They want it bad, they have a good business plan, they know the plan, they rework the plan, they refine their plan...rework the plan again and again...do you get where I'm going with this?  Paralysis of Analysis.  This is when we think too much about what we are going to do and never actually do it.  "Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in". - Napoleon Bonaparte.  Of course we take time developing a plan of action but once we have this plan it is time to take action; there will never be the perfect time. “Don't wait. The time will never be just right.” - Napoleon Hill. The plan will never be perfect but action will always beat inaction. Ernest Hemingway spoke of this when he said "Never mistake motion for action."  If we are going over and over in our head what our plan is we are in motion, but until we do something we are not taking action.  I have had the privilege of helping many people start new business, 43 people in the last few months. For some of them they have taken action and jumped right in but for others they have shown paralysis of analysis.  We work together to set out the plan, they learn the plan but they rework the plan again and again, they want to make themselves a "master" before starting.  Unfortunately while they are spending time mastering the competition is out getting customers. Customers that could have been theirs but they were not in the market place yet because they were still in mastery mode. The only way you are going to be a master is to get out there and do. The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell suggest to be come a master at anything it takes 10,000 hours of doing to become a master of a skill.   "An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Sure you may fail a few times along the way, you will fall, but you will get back up and be better for it.  "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."- Michael Jordan.  What if Michael Jordan was afraid of missing a shot so he decided to wait until his shot was perfect before playing competitive basket ball?  

Here are 7 ways to get started that have worked for me and hopefully will help you.

1. Don’t wait until conditions are perfect
– If you’re waiting to start until conditions are perfect, you probably never will. There will always be something that isn’t quite right. Either the timing is off, the market is down, or there’s too much competition. In the real world there is no perfect time to start. You have to take action and deal with problems as they arise.  

2. Be a doer - Practice doing things rather than thinking about them. Do you want to start exercising? Do you have a great idea to start something? Do it today. The longer an idea sits in your head without being acted on, the weaker it becomes. After a few days the details gets hazy. After a week it’s forgotten completely. By becoming a doer you’ll get more done and stimulate new ideas in the process.

3. Remember that ideas alone don’t bring success – Ideas are important, but they’re only valuable after they’ve been implemented. One average idea that’s been put into action is more valuable than a dozen brilliant ideas that you’re saving for “some other day” or the “right opportunity”. If you have an idea the you really believe in, do something about it. Unless you take action it will never go anywhere.

4. Use action to cure fear – Have you ever noticed that the most difficult part of public speaking is waiting for your turn to speak? Even professional speakers and actors experience pre-performance anxiety. Once they get started the fear disappears. Action is the best cure for fear. The most difficult time to take action is the very first time. After the ball is rolling, you’ll build confidence and things will keep getting easier. Kill fear by taking action and build on that confidence.  

5. Start your creative engine mechanically – One of the biggest misconceptions about creative work is that it can only be done when inspiration strikes. If you wait for inspiration to slap you in the face, your work sessions will be few and far between. Instead of waiting, start your creative motor mechanically. If you need to write something, force yourself to sit down and write. Put pen to paper. Brainstorm. Doodle. By moving your hands you’ll stimulate the flow of ideas and inspire yourself.

6. Live in the present - Focus on what you can do in the present moment. Don’t worry about what you should have done last week or what you might be able to do tomorrow. The only time you can affect is the present. If you speculate too much about the past or the future you won’t get anything done. Tomorrow or next week frequently turns into never.

7. Get down to business immediately
– It’s common practice for people to socialize and make small talk at the beginning of meetings. The same is true for individual workers. How often do you check email or facebook before doing any real work? (guilty of this myself) These distractions will cost you serious time if you don’t bypass them and get down to business immediately. By becoming someone who gets to the point you’ll be more productive and people will look to you as a leader.

Are you ready to take action?  I hope you have found this to be helpful and I look forward to hearing from you if it does.  No matter where we are at in life at this time there is more out there for us. My favorite quote of all time is "what the mind can convince and believe it can achieve"- Napolian Hill.  Make a goal, believe in it and take action on it today!  

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