The Lost Art of Action
Posted by Orrin Woodward on June 20, 2016
One of my all-time favorite quotes, a quote I first heard from a professor at GMI-EMI (now Kettering University), a thunderbolt of wisdom that changed my perspective, is, “When all is said and done, much more is said than is ever done.” Perhaps, the reason it struck me so profoundly, back in the day, was the financial strain I was under. Having moved out of my parent’s house on my 19th birthday and completely oblivious to living expenses, I was so broke that I could not even afford to pay attention. 🙂 Seriously, I lived on one hot dog and one potato per night, kept the heat at 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the winter, and still didn’t have enough money for bills and school. Tuition alone costs more than I made as a Co-Op student at AC Spark Plug, forcing me to borrow $17,500 just to continue my education.
Although hopelessly naive and inexperienced in the ways of the world, I vowed to make it without having to run to mommy and daddy for help. Of course, this wasn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. I lived in a dangerous neighborhood in the most wretched of conditions, renting the bottom half of a varmint-infested house, a house condemned less than a year after I moved out. Nonetheless, I was not depressed or even fearful, for I had a dream, a plan, and the motivation to escape my poverty and live my dreams. I quickly realized the key to making the dream come true was massive action! Without this, I would be out of college, out of a job, and practically out of options. Needless to say, my back was against the proverbial wall; however, I believed that if I walked my talk by implementing the game plan, busting my butt at work, and graduating as an engineer, my life would improve.
Reflecting back, I believe the lack of options was a blessing because it narrowed my focus and helped me apply massive action on the one plan I had in front of me. I simply didn’t have the time or money to even entertain other options? This is how I was blessed with FOCUS! 🙂 To me, the process boiled down to three things: 1) What do you want? 2) What does it cost? and 3) Pay it. Strangely, however, while the first two question are talked about incessantly, the third step, the action one, is rarely applied. What gives? Why, in other words, would perfectly capable people, who know what they want and know what it’s going to take to achieve it, refuse to do the actions necessary to accomplish it? I believe this is one of the biggest leadership paradoxes facing people moving from the performer lens (I can do this) to the leadership lens (we can do this).
After all, true leaders are not people who coax people into doing something they DON’T want to accomplish, for that would be manipulation. Rather, leadership is about inspiring people perform the actions necessary to accomplish what they DO want. Over the next decade, in the process of building leadership communities, I realized just how rare the person who does what he says actually is. For instance, if I had a dollar for everyone who said they were going to become a top leader, I would be a millionaire all over again. It reminds me of my friend Chris Brady, whose dad told him repeatedly, “Talk is cheap, but it takes money to buy whiskey.” Likewise, talk is cheap, but it takes action to buy one’s dreams.”
The reason I am sharing this is to emphasize to my readers the importance of ACTION! Quit waiting for conditions to be right, for they rarely are; quit waiting for others to lead, for they rarely do; finally, quit waiting for inspiration and focus on perspiration! So many, in other words, wait to feel right before acting right. I have learned, over the years, that a person must start acting right, then he will feel right about it. If you have a dream, then act on it, regardless of feelings. Shamefully, most people wait their whole life and accomplish little of substance. This reminds me of the old Chinese proverb which stated, “Man who stands on side of mountain waiting for roasted duck to fly into his mouth waits a long time.” 🙂
Although many seem to think there are hundreds of ways to become a Financial Sovereign (ethically, morally, and honorably), this simply isn’t the case. Most careers pay just enough to keep someone comfortably (or uncomfortably) stuck in the Financial Matrix. Bottom line is: If you have a vehicle to win, then develop a plan, determine its price, and pay it by applying massive action! Everyone wants to live his dreams, but only those who plan and work ever truly will. My accounting professor at GMI-EMI gave me a priceless nugget and now I am passing it onto you, “When all is said and done, much more is said than is ever done.”
The world is filled with talkers, but everything Laurie and I have accomplished as leaders is based upon dreaming a big dream, creating a culture that separates the talkers from the walkers, and learning to love the talkers while leading the walkers. Indeed, the art and science of leadership is nothing more or less than modeling the right behaviors, messaging the right behaviors, and then mentoring those who ACT on the right behaviors. This is the culture of execution that every great leader in every field develops to create lasting success.
Well, the article is done and this is the point where everyone talks, but I think it’s time to take action. Why not leave a comment and state: 1) What do you want? 2) What will it cost? 3) Whether you are ready to pay the price? Nine out of ten of the people reading this will not comment and instead will just talk about their dreams, but the one out of ten will comment and ACT their way to their dreams! I encourage you to be part of the ten percent because that’s what leaders do. 🙂