Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Difference Between Decision and Action

"When all is said and done, more is said than done."
- Lou Holtz, former coach of the Notre Dame University football team.

"Five frogs were sitting on a log. One decided to jump into the pond. How many were left?"

Did you think four? Think again. The age-old quote doesn’t say one jumped in; it says one decided to jump in. There is a big difference between deciding to do something and actually doing it.

Decisions are useless unless we follow up with action. Only action will bring us any likelihood for success. In fact, the etymological meaning of "succeed" is "that which follows", and success is what follows action.

In the military, soldiers learn "Ready, Aim, Fire". But in life and business, we see a good deal of "Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim…" Once a decision is made, it is time for action.

Theodore Roosevelt said, "In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." If we do the wrong thing, at least we can learn something from our mistake. But inaction teaches us nothing, other than regret. Sometimes the cause of inaction is the fear of failure. But the reality is that we learn more by trial and error than by sitting and doing nothing. Nothing risked, but nothing gained. Peter Drucker told us "People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year."

The founder of Atari Computer, Nolan Bushnell, summarizes the importance of follow up: "The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer."

So, don't sit up and take notice, but get up and take action, for the secret of getting ahead is getting started.