Action Creates Clarity

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Action Creates Clarity

By Ruth Michel

Action Creates Clarity

Doubt is really unproductive. A mind full of hundreds of “what if” and “I’m not sure” questions just raises your blood pressure and turns your dreams into impossibilities.

You know what else is unproductive? The more venerable but still unfruitful plan. Don’t get me wrong – I’m the first to fill up my planner and detail my five-year plan – but sometimes we mask procrastination as planning… that never ends.

When I read Peter Sheahan’s book How to Turn Everything You Know on Its Head–And Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imagining, one point in particular stood out – “Action provides clarity.”

As Shearan says, “At some point you have to stop thinking, stop planning, and just do something. Anything!” Here are a few reasons why action is beneficial:

The best work happens in the flow

When I’m living in my head and planning, my ideas are limited by my memories and knowledge. When I start taking steps, I’m confronted with reality. Answers stare me straight in the face. The way I imagined it usually pales in comparison to what develops as I get my hands dirty. I’m reminded of Michelangelo’s theory: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Discovery doesn’t happen without some chiseling.

Action allows for feedback

Most of my plans live in isolation. Yet most major wars have been won because of collaboration; there’s usually a room full of advisors surrounding the general. Occasionally your ideas might be shot down, but normally that’s a blessing that saves you some grief. What happens more frequently is the enhancement of your ideas. Others will sharpen your plan because they have diverse experiences, prioritize different interests, have varying expertise, or simply view a problem through a different perspective.

Change and adaptation

Inventors might give birth to excellent ideas in the shower, but they only use paper to organize their thoughts. The real magic happens in the lab or garage. Trying out our ideas clarifies their quality. We discover what works, what doesn’t, what’s missing and what needs improvement. Strategy generally refines itself through our actions.

As Sheahan said, “You can’t plan your way to greatness,” but if we are decisive, flexible and open to feedback, our work will certainly be great.

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