The Gap? Knowledge and Action

I was reminded this week about how many of our challenges can be summarized by the interaction of knowledge and action. There are two opposing situations that can slow our progress toward success.

1. Action that lacks knowledge. At times our actions don’t generate the right outcome. Afterwards we may learn something that would lead to better actions in the future. Knowledge can come from many sources. Better results can occur just through using the knowledge of other people. If we are taking action but not getting the results we desire, then knowledge and resources can help.

2. Knowledge that lacks action. The second situation is when we know what to do, we just don’t do it. This is also very common. When I exercise first thing in the morning, my day is more productive, and I feel better. Do I exercise first thing every morning? No. There are many reasons, or… excuses. If we have the knowledge but fail to take action, then finding a means of accountability usually helps.

The interaction between knowledge and action can ultimately define our success. As a coach, I help people continually navigate both of these situations. For complex challenges, we experience a fluctuation between both of these situations. On a day when I feel stuck, I find a way to shift my energy to either action or knowledge. This helps me achieve success for the day. What helps you get through these two situations as you go through your week?

Make Today Successful

A friend of mine was recently working on a project and had let the upcoming completion date be a high source of stress. Deadlines can cause stress. Stress can prevent us from achieving the success we desire. My friend eventually worked through their stress and met the deadline for their project. Hidden in her story is a great little lesson.

Do today, what is most important today. If every day you do what is most important, tomorrow will take care of itself. She was able to meet her project deadline because she made a point to get done today the requirements that needed to be done today for the project. Having a longer term plan, but a short term focus can eliminate the stress.

Check your to-do-list. If it looks the same every day, never changing, then do something different. For a week, forget your to-do-list. Instead, define the most important thing (or two or three) to accomplish today. Use this focus to break through the to-do-list stagnation. Build momentum towards a larger goal.

Action is a strong deterrent to stress. I have coached many people that have missed deadlines because they put off taking action. A large project is accomplished through small meaningful actions accumulated over many days. If you can define the action that needs to be done today, and you achieve that action, a large project becomes manageable. If you can take action every day, you will feel the stress fade.

When you think of your biggest goal, what is the action you need to take today?

Right, Wrong, Legal, Illegal

Life would be easier if there was no grey area between legal and illegal or between right and wrong. But if you are like me, you can find yourself in situations that are difficult.

I know the difference between right and wrong, and the difference between legal and illegal. But what if following the law injures another person? What if doing what you believe is right, breaks the law? In these cases, you can find a vicious debate.

I am driven more by moral values than I am by the laws written by other people. I also recognize that being morally right does not allow me to judge others. In today’s culture, we are experiencing conflict about gun control, abortion, gender, euthanasia, immigration, global consumption and growth.

This topic has been on my mind since I read a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. She said, “When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?” I can also restate that from another perspective as, “When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than accept it as a cost of our greed?”

Moral dilemmas have existed throughout history. To me it is important how I act, and how I respond. Yet, I can only make a difference if I understand the issues. Listening to one or even both sides of the argument by itself does not help. Both sides will claim to be right.

Is it right or wrong, legal or illegal? Because in today’s culture every voice can be heard, it has made finding the truth more difficult. But if we listen to Eleanor, preventing human misery may help us start. How do you deal with all the conflict that invades your daily life?

A Good Mentor Gives Feedback

“Mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s the only way we grow.” – George Lucas

We benefit from a mentor by learning from their experience. However, a great mentor will go beyond that basic premise and provide specific feedback for improvement and growth.

A mentoring relationship that is well developed breaks down the barriers to open dialogue. High levels of success are achievable when you and your mentor embrace the following in your relationship.

1. Be humble. We like to impress people with our knowledge and experience. A great mentoring relationship is not based on pride, but on humility.

2. Be authentic. We tend to exaggerate important moments in our lives. We live them several times in our memories, and they tend to take on even more importance. A great mentoring relationship defines the reality of challenges and goals. It allows discussion of unaltered truth.

3. Be realistic. We desire immediate results from our efforts. A great mentoring relationship will balance short term and long term gains. When we achieve short term improvements while working on longer term benefits, we will have exceptional results that last.

Developing a relationship that is productive takes time. Time is what allows trust and respect to grow. Finding a great mentor is a challenge worth the effort.