When In Doubt, Act©

When I talk to lawyers, I usually hear the same few complaints:

  • “I wish I had more business”
  • “I wish I wasn’t so busy” [busyness is not the same as business]
  • “I wish I wasn’t so scattered”
  • “I wish I wasn’t so stressed”
  • “I wish my life was simpler”

There are a couple of problems with this thinking, but the most notable is that we tend to talk, wish and even dream about what we want (or don’t want), but one thing is usually missing – clear decisions and action.

First of all, if you’re struggling with being busy, congratulations—you are one of 319 million people in the United States because everyone is busy. In today’s world, it’s easy to be busy, and being busy typically has no connection to productivity, effectiveness, profitability or satisfaction. The state of being busy is much like a drug—it makes you feel good (better than doing nothing), but it is often not purposeful or effective. Personally, I have been working at giving up the word “busy” for the past year, realizing that being busy was not moving me forward personally or professionally.

This past spring, I was experiencing a rare feeling—stress. That may sound odd, but I am rarely stressed. In this case, I was feeling stressed, and I felt overwhelmed with too many things on my plate. Sound familiar? My initial response was to do more—just as I always do—and I began doing just that. The result: I was just as stressed and perhaps even more stressed. What? I was doing things, but I was not being purposeful with my actions. I was falling into the trap of merely doing, rather than purposefully or strategically doing.

After a couple of weeks, I shifted gears. I looked at my many “to do” lists and realized that there were a lot of decisions needing to be made on my list—things that were lingering in my head and taking up space and time on my list and in my thoughts. I decided that I needed to make more decisions and take action, which I did. I started making decisions, got into action and started to feel less stress.

I even started to tell people that the key was making more decisions, and I shared a new stress reduction formula:

Make more decisions + act on decisions = Less stress

In retrospect, however, I was not completely clear on what I was creating and experiencing. Yes, I was making more decisions, but it was the execution of those decisions that was reducing my stress.

For example, one item on my list was to decide if I was attending a certain conference. I could have decided to attend, but only when I took action to implement that decision did the item come off of my list and therefore get out of my head. I could have made a long list of “decisions,” but until I acted on them (got actionized, as I like to say) they would continue to occupy and even interfere with my thinking and my emotions. The stress started to fall away when I put my decisions into action—when I modeled being actionized.

Frankly, I don’t care what you’ve decided; I care about what decisions you have put into action. Similarly, your team and other people in your life only care what you are doing, not what you are deciding. Action is the essence of leadership, and true leaders don’t talk about their decisions, they show you what they have done to actionize their decisions. Thoughts and decisions put into action is what engages people and teams. This is also what gets things (the right things) done and what creates change and new outcomes.

One critical note: One of the most important decisions you can make is to STOP doing certain things. Not everything on your plate is important. Not everything on your plate is your highest and best use. Not everything on your plate is worthy of your time. Not everything on your plate needs to be done by you. Sometimes the most important action is the “act” of taking things off of your plate.

Clear and decisive action is the most effective way to change your wishes into positive outcomes like the following:

  • “I wish I had more business” becomes more business
  • “I wish I wasn’t so busy” becomes more effective
  • “I wish I wasn’t so scattered” becomes more focused
  • “I wish I wasn’t so stressed” becomes more relaxed
  • “I wish my life was simpler” becomes more peace

Are you ready to claim all that you desire for yourself and your firm? Then get actionized.TM

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