Planning vs ACTION: The Challenge of Implementing Change

11 11 2011

I have just read a fascinating (if not a bit confronting) piece written by Martin Osborn, a London-based entrepreneur and writer of the popular Marketing blog Finch Sells. The article reminds me of two quotes:

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519

“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.” – Chamfort (French playwright, 1741-1794)

The key point I take from the article is not that planning is bad – because nothing significant or worthwhile ever happens without being intentional and planning to do it (and working out how). But planning without acting on it and implementing it, is far too easy to do.

Usually when we reach a point when we realise something needs to change, we have a kind of internal frustration at the way something is happening in our lives. It’s built into our psychology that we need to DO something in response to it. Almost like an animal’s “fight or flight” response to an unwanted situation (a lion turning up at the water hole).

The problem lies in the fact that our brains often fail to differentiate between the action of writing out a to-do (or to-change) list, and the action of actually IMPLEMENTING it. You’ve been frustrated at your poor state of health & fitness; or your bad financial situation; so you sit down and write a plan to fix it. You feel better having got it off your chest. Your brain then registers it as having been ‘dealt with’ and emotionally you feel better about the situation. Two weeks later you find yourself facing the same situation (and feelings) again, when your brain finally realises that nothing actually ocurred to solve the problem.

The solution? Don’t just express your desire to change and then feel better for a while and forget about it; when you want to change something, start doing it NOW. Do ONE thing, no matter how small, to begin momentum and get things moving. If you’ve ever roll-started a car with  a dead battery, you’ll know that it’s far easier to keep pushing a car that is already rolling, than to start it moving from standstill.

Read the article below, and let it challenge you. Remember: knowledge in itself is not power; knowledge gives us the POTENTIAL for power. The power is in the actions we take.

– Quinton


SETTING TARGETS FOR THE FUTURE is pointless if you can’t fulfill your targets for today. The only way to achieve something great is to stop daydreaming about it over Starbucks and start taking action when it matters. Now. This is a belief that defines how I set my goals. We have a habit of overestimating what we can achieve in a day, and underestimating what we can achieve in a year. It’s an unfortunate trait, and one that has scuppered many perfectly realisable ambitions.

How often have you found that your short term doing is no match for the long term planning? Are your notepads full of projections for the life you’ll be living in six months? Is there a plan that fits around your schedule to get you there? Notepads are a trademark accessory of the daydreamer who likes to look busy. It’s easier to scribble our intentions than to take the first step towards realising them. How many trees have been hacked down for you reiterate the same objectives over and over again? Writing them down does not bring them to fruition. The next time you commit your masterplan to pen and paper, make sure the last thing you write is the first step you will be taking. Better yet, make sure that first step is crossed off your list before you go to bed. Sleep is the great killer of plans that haven’t been put in to action.

Some people have their futures mapped to the finest detail. They decide one day that enough is enough, and promptly draw up manifestos of change that leave no part of their lives untouched. This approach to achieving big is well-intentioned, but likely to fail. We simply don’t respond well to snap re-programming unless it’s triggered by truly life changing events. And I hope you’ll agree, a moody trip to Starbucks with journal in hand doesn’t quite fit that bill for most individuals.

I have to come back to the concept of overestimating what we can achieve in a day. There’s no doubt. We can achieve a lot in 24 hours, in the literal sense. However, most of the long-term goals we set hinge on our ability to make lifestyle changes. You can’t alter your behavioural traits in 24 hours. I’ve never known a smoking addict to give up the drug on Day One, and to have forgotten about his commitment by Day Two – unless he’s failed the task!

The trouble with overestimating what can be achieved in a day is that it typically deflates our hunger to keep going. There’s no greater thievery of motivation than waking up to yesterday’s failure. It makes your goals seem further and further away. In reality, they’re still perfectly attainable. It’s equally true, and even more important to remember, that we chronically underestimate what can be achieved with sustained effort over time. We may fail in 24 hours, it’s quite likely. However, this is where your character needs to shine through. Sustained action is the big brother to your hopes and ambitions. Many of the world’s greatest inventors and innovators only succeeded on the back of a thousand failures. I doubt they needed many notepads telling them what they needed to do, just lots of hours spent actually doing.

It’s better to set yourself a million baby steps than one goal that you’ll do everything in your power to put off for another day. The real secret to long term planning is a simple acknowledgement that the time for taking action is always now. This is what separates the achievers from the believers, and those who do, from those who plan to.


Stuck? 6 Keys to Breakthrough..

23 02 2010

How many times have you faced a situation or a time in your life where you just felt STUCK. In a rut, as it were. Here are some quick keys to breakthrough..

1. Get some direction. Ask yourself what you actually want – “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?” You’ll never get momentum without a sense of direction.

2. Realise you have a choice! You may not be able to control you circumstances, but you can control your response. There is a difference between responding and reacting. The difference lies in the seat of control – are you occupying it, or your circumstances?

3. Acknowledge the things that block you from responding. Fear of taking responsibility, fear of failure, fear of others’ opinions, fear….. The first step to beat any problem is to recognise its existence. “Know your enemy to defeat it”.

4. Share your goals with someone else (who will support you)! Accountability yields commitment. I was talking with some friends recently about why we don’t do this, and realised that either:

a. We fear falling short of others expectations (what-if-I-fail?) and so try to play down our goals or keep them private, or

b. We fear that the goal itself may be seen as too small (a bit silly or easy) – or too big (who do you think you are?) – in the eyes of others when we share it.

In short, we fear people’s reactions to the actual goal, and then we fear their potential reaction should we fail to achieve it. If it’s too small, they’ll laugh at us. If it’s too big, we might fail and expose ourselves to ridicule. Solution is in the next point…

5. Don’t let other people hold you back with the same reasoning and negativity that they hold their own lives back with! Realise that everyone has hopes and goals, but most people fail to achieve them – for lack of courage and lack of proactiveness. So don’t fear the critics! US President Theodore Roosevelt once said:

“…the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic – the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.”

6. And finally, realise that the times where you are most held back from doing something (by fear, lack of faith etc), will often be the times where if you push through, you will experience the greatest reward and success!

Great Quotes From Great Thinkers..

23 02 2010

Some of my favourite quotes from Robin Sharma, business leadership coach, author and speaker. Along with a few thought-provoking quotes from other great minds.

Read, and be inspired!



As you reflect back over your life, ask this powerful question: “Could i have done more?” If yes, do more now. Too many people die at 30 and are buried at 80

What makes genius isn’t just the big idea but the brilliant execution to advance it

A key trait of greatness is to never lose your lust for learning.

You can’t create an outer life that’s more excellent than the quality of your inner life – outer leadership begins with self-leadership. Life doesn’t give you what you want – life gives you who you are. For things to change, we must change. for our lives to become exceptional, we must first become exceptional. The starting point of it all: to change the world, transform yourself.

What would do today if you had a deep knowing that it was impossible to fail? A secret of greatness is to do the things that make you feel uncomfortable and play out on the jagged edges of your life. If you’re not really growing, you’re not truly living.

Winston Churchill said “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Either you set your goals and, in doing so, have your life governed by choice or you do nothing and have your life governed by chance. You can live your life by chance or by choice. It’s really up to you.

Lead without a title. Leadership isn’t about the size of your position. Real leadership is about the depth of your commitment. Your job as a Leader Without a Title? To stay “couraged” in a world that dis-courages you from being awesome

Life’s greatest longing is for the fullest expression of your best self. Aim for brilliance. If you miss, at least you’ll end up at excellence.

Goals matter. They are your hopes seeking expression. And without hope, life is dead.

Life is fair. The amount of wealth you experience will be a function of how much value you create for others. What a great paradox: the more you share your talents and gifts with others, the bigger the gift you give yourself

The heart knows what the mind cannot understand [trust your gut]

Treat everyone you meet as if they might die tomorrow.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a greater understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. – Aldous Huxley

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” – Anita Roddick, founder, The Body Shop”

A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.” – Warren Buffett

Anthony Hopkins: “Success smells like Malibu…”

3 02 2010

From Success Magazine, February Issue

Anthony Hopkins—he prefers Tony— has always had an overriding ambition to be successful financially and professionally. Best known for his Oscar-winning role as Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs, Hopkins has been acting for over 50 years and earned some of the most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry.

Now 72, he remains fit, focused and driven in his other pursuits as painter and composer. He shared some of his life philosophies that have helped him achieve exactly what he wanted with SUCCESS:

Keep pushing yourself. “I think it’s very necessary to have a tension in life that keeps us moving. If we become totally peaceful, we die.”

Choose to use anger constructively. “It gives you enough GRRRR to help you rise above it, or it sucks you down into the mud. Sometimes a good degree of constructive anger can get you going.”

Preparation yields confidence. Hopkins is known for the amount of preparation he puts into acting. “Once it’s in the memory banks, it’s secure.… And you go on set or to rehearsal and you’re at ease, at peace.”

Be careful what you feed your brain. “What happens if you pour negative information in there, or positive information? You change the balance of your nature.”

7 Steps to Success

22 12 2009

We’re just about done 2009. On January, 1, 2010, you get a fresh 365 days. A new chance.  To create the single best year of your life to date. Most will waste this opportunity and make the new  year a repeat of the one just past. Sad. But true. But a few will wake up to the possibility and do 7 things that will ensure 2010 is the most unforgettable twelve months they have experienced yet. Want to be one of the fortunate few? International speaker and business leadership coach, Robin Sharma, offers 7 steps you can take to ensure this year ahead of us will be your best one yet. Enjoy.

– Quinton

 Step #1: Evaluate 2009. Do a written story recording what went well this past year and, even more importantly, what areas you could improve on. Also list all your wins and as many high points as you can recall. Get a clear picture of how you showed up.
Step #2: Set Your Theme. Come up with a theme for 2010. It may be “The Year of Financial Freedom” or “The Year of Work Excellence” or “The Year of Fearlessness”. But get a theme into a document you can start reviewing every week.
Step #3: Create a Mission. The next step is to develop a one paragraph mission statement and put it into this document. Clarity precedes mastery so the more clear your ultimate mountaintop for 2010 is, the greater your focus will be. And the most positive results you’ll see.
Step #4: List Your Big 5. OK, now ask yourself this powerful self-coaching question: What 5 things need to happen between now and December 31, 2010 for this to have been the single most successful year of my life to date?” Write down those five goals as simply and clearly as possible into this document.
Step #5: Sequence Your Big 5. Now break your Big 5 down into quarterly goals. Set 5 core goals for the first/second/third and fourth quarters of 2010 to ensure you nail your Big 5. Review these every week. Reflect on them everyday if you really want to win. Make these strategic objectives the sole focus of your life.
Step #6: Refocus Every Morning. Life’s job is to distract you. Your job is to stay staggeringly focused on what’s most important. Take 15 minutes during your morning resetting period to reflect on your goals, to envision your best moves and to track out a day that’s productive, passionate and fun.
Step #7:  Get Devoted to Learning. The #1 skill of super successful people is that they are relentless learners. While others are wasting time on low-value websites or watching mindless reality tv shows, they are listening to audio programs, studying books on leadership and success and basically creating a rich, beautiful and meaningful life. As you journey through each day of 2010, make the time to fuel your brain with ideas on excellence and creating your absolute best. Nothing’s more important than that. And please remember that all it takes is a single idea to transform the way you lead and how you live.