To create change, you need to act first, not change first.
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of INVISION.
It is something that we all face: There are things we would like to be different, about our life, our business or our practice, but we just can’t get motivated to change our behaviors. We talk about it with our colleagues, we discuss it with our spouses or we even take time to attend meetings and conferences to learn how to make these changes. However, in the end, we don’t act. We hope that one day, it will all come together, the moon and stars will align and we’ll be motivated to actually take the action necessary to make the changes we want.
Until we learn that this entire approach is backward, we won’t reach the full potential of our business or life. William James, the father of modern psychology, was among the first to notice the counterintuitive idea that feelings or motivations are created by the actions we take and that actions are not in fact born from motivation or feelings.
Dale Carnegie, author of the worldwide best-selling book, How To Win Friends And Influence People wrote, “If you want to be enthusiastic, you have to act enthusiastic.”
Our feelings and emotions are created by action. If we wait until we feel like doing something, the odds are that we never will get that thing done. If an overweight person waits until he feels like dieting or exercising, there will be no improvement in his health or weight. If anything, the “I’m going to wait until it feels right” attitude will likely result in more weight gain.
The process for changing or improving anything is pretty simple. We tend to over complicate it with our excuses. Often, changes are not made in the office because, “Right now is not a good time, we’re short a person and I don’t want to put too much on the rest of the staff.” Or, “It’s summer time and we’re either too busy or too slow to make any major change.” It all comes down to how important it really is to you. If it isn’t that important, OK, just leave it alone. But, if it isn’t that important then quit complaining about it. You’ve already decided that it isn’t important enough to make the change necessary to make your office, your health, your relationships, your career, etc., better.
But if it is important, the process for making positive change in your business or life consists of these steps:
1. Decide what you want to change. This needs to be a serious and authentic discussion you have with yourself. Everyone wants things better in some aspect of their life but there is a difference between making a decision and having a wish or a want. A decision means it will happen. A true decision changes everything. Once you have made that decision, then it is about the next step.
2. Figure out a plan. The great thing about this step is that if you have truly made a decision, then the plan doesn’t even have to be that good at the start. It is just that, a start. Put together some ideas that make sense, discuss them with people on your team or your associates and put an action plan in place. Then you are ready for the magic.
3. Take action. The power is in the action. Even a bad plan that is acted upon will produce ten-fold more results than a perfect plan that is never started. As you take action, you modify and adjust. Taking action creates learning, experience, wisdom and insight. It is through the action that we grow, as professionals, as people. There is power generated by taking action that cannot be denied.
When I first got into sales, I had the privilege to work with a man named Red Statum. Red was responsible for tutoring me in the wise ways of helping people with the services we were selling. Each morning, after our daily sales meeting and a few cups of coffee, Red would say to me, “Let’s go Marvin, we’re burning daylight.” After the first time, I asked, “Where are we going, what are we doing?” Red responded by saying, “It doesn’t matter, we’re going to do something even if it’s wrong.”
From then on, I understood, accomplishment, achievement, making positive change, requires taking action. There is no such thing as perfect action, you make it perfect by growing through the doing.
With 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry, John D. Marvin writes about marketing, management and education at practiceprinciples.net. He is president of Texas State Optical. Contact him at jdmarvin@tso. com.