April 3, 2013

No Substitute for Learning and Action


When I was recently asked to give a motivational speech at a conference, I declined and instead suggested speaking about the source of consistently producing results. While we can always use a bit of inspiration through great vision and motivational conversations, there is only one thing that will ultimately give you an experience of power, satisfaction and achievement.

Taking action with integrity.

Not integrity in a moralistic sense, but doing what you know needs to be done or doing what you said you would do.

I have coached, worked with or led workshops to thousands of people in Australia and overseas and have had countless of conversations about what it takes to succeed with people as young as eight and as old as 90. I’ve worked with very successful, high performing achievers, as well as struggling, poor performers, and everyone in between.

There is actually very little that separates high and low performers and it's pretty simple.

It's all in the actions you take, your willingness to learn and the degree to which you follow through on what it takes to produce a result.

Pretty simple.

Behind that of course is where it gets a bit more complicated. There is the planning and determination to succeed coupled with the impatience to produce the result and the resilience, energy and tenacity it takes to keep going despite setbacks and obstacles.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the thinking you engage in, the context that shapes your worldview and, most importantly, your readiness to learn from experience. This determines your relationship to success, your willingness to be responsible for your results, and the velocity with which you deal with roadblocks.

Low performers see setbacks as failures and an excuse to stop and stay stopped. They get caught up in the emotions around the setback and take little or no action to shift their thinking and results. Or, they take a long time to get back into the game.

High performers see setbacks as an opportunity to learn, grow and become even more successful. Their response time to upsets or roadblocks can be as fast a few seconds. One of my clients literally altered their emotional distress before my eyes within 5 seconds. That’s why they’re in the leadership roles.

How can you up your game?

I like to keep it simple and easy to remember. If you produce the result, learn what worked, what didn’t and what you need to do next to do better. Then do more of that.

If you don’t produce the result, learn what worked, what didn’t and what you need to do next to do better. Then stop doing what didn't work.

If something unexpected and disappointing happens, take a moment and allow yourself to fully feel and express your emotions. Don't fight or resist them. Just feel them. 

Then get on with it – learn and move on. Taking action, no matter how small, is really the only way to leave setbacks behind. You'll start to feel better as soon as you move forward.

Everyone has moments. Even the high achievers. As Michael Jordan said "I failed over and over and over again. That's why I succeed."