Closing the intention-action gap

inactionThe number one killer of great outcomes is being stuck between “saying” and “doing.” Because I’ve been prone to this particular dysfunction, I’ve collected a vast assortment of observations that addresses the painfully obvious gap between intention and outcome. There are many reasons for the gap. Most have their roots in some degree of fear: failure, ridicule, scorn, criticism…name your pet fear. Many introverts, who have advanced skills in negative self-talk (not a good thing), are adept at getting stuck. If talking yourself out of doing thing things is a common experience for you, I highly recommend reading Dr. Rick Carlson’s classic “Taming Your Gremlin” which offers pithy and useful advice on this front.

Seth Godin writes frequently and fiercely on the subject of getting out of your own way. His recent post, “The Myth of Preparation” is a call to action for all of us who hesitate to put our ideas into the world until they are perfect. And his short but powerful book “The Dip” focuses on the inevitable challenges in pursuing new ventures to completion.

There are useful lessons to be learned from Agile methods of software development: Chunk work into manageable portions, strive for the minimum value proposition, ship (i.e., get it out there) and repeat. Iteration and accumulation of usefulness goes a long way to overcoming the delays imposed by attempting to design the perfect complete thing before acting.

If design is not your issue but mastery (and it’s sidekick, credibility) I suggest we listen to Seth and get over it. Here’s an idea worth repeating frequently to calm your misgivings :

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly–until you can learn to do it well.” — Zig Ziglar

Ideas only have value when acted upon. Commitments to yourself and, especially, others without action are beyond unhelpful. Being stuck in inaction furthers no one’s cause. So do something about whatever is on your mind, however small. It would be a start, bridge that gap and get you closer to the outcome you desire.

Try? There is no Try!

Many of you will know that I am in the throes of authoring a book about workplace communication.  You may not know that I’m trying to complete it by the end of February, just 13 short days and nights from this moment.

Talk To Me – Workplace Conversations That Work, blends fiction and nonfiction, weaving a story around and through the communication ideas to put them in a ‘real world’ context. It’s a book with an accompanying learning program and a slew of downloadable recordings and worksheets to support it. Mercifully, these extra bits are not due by month’s end.

This morning, as I was trying to write one of five chapters required this week, I interrupted myself to coach a young entrepreneur of unusual talent. Today was not her best day. She acknowledged that she’s trying to be a certain way. And she’ll try to think bigger. And she’ll try to put some ideas together. And she’ll try to do something about it.

And all of a sudden, I could hear the great Jedi guru, Yoda, screaming at me, at her, and at the world, just as he screamed at Luke Skywalker. “Try? There is no Try! There is only Do and Not Do.