When you look back at the highs and low of your career to date, what do you notice about your levels of action in those pivotal moments?
Let’s take the highs, first. That’s easier.
First, you’ll notice there was, indeed, action – as opposed to absence of action. That there were a number of complementary actions, working in harmony. They were intentional. And they were powerful.
You’ll also notice that it was all somewhat inspired. Bravery might also be in there, along with resilience and/or perseverance. And if you’re not already quite over the superlatives, you’ll notice it was all progressive action: not action for its own sake, but chosen actions that would actually move you forward.
And as for the lows: well, your levels of action weren’t any of those things. In fact, they were quite the opposite. Not so much inaction as anti-action. Action in the other direction.
What do I mean by that? Well, here it is in a nutshell …
Isn’t it true that the level of action that moved you forward – or, indeed, held you firmly back from your potential – was off the scale action?
Action off the scale
Give your actions a rating scale. Any you like, but to illustrate let’s go with the good ol’ 1 – 10.
- 1 – 4: we’re disinterested and demotivated. Something else is going on here that might be worth uncovering – because although it’s not disaster today, over time it’s going to add-up to a problem.
- 5 – 7: we’re coasting. We’re good at our jobs, so this is quite good enough – if we want to stay where we are, doing what we’re doing. But we’ll not move upwards anytime soon or with any great impact.
- 8 – 10: now we’re doing a good job. We’re one of the better performers. But honestly: there are plenty of us at this level. And whilst this is better than average, it’s not “stand-out performance”. It’s not stellar.
When we’re doing a good job, but our career isn’t taking off, the thinking might go like this:
My action is 9/10. Why am I not moving onward and upward? Why isn’t this happening faster? Why are the results I’m creating not bigger and better?
Because the level of action is not off the scale. And that’s what’s needed.
Action so powerful that it leaves no room for our fear, indecision or uncertainty. Action so powerful, it completely overwhelms a stuck career.
So let’s introduce an extended scale and think again about what makes a great career:
- 11 – 15 (out of 10): now we’re talking. I move my career forward when I take massive action. When I make a habit of going the extra mile – and then some. When I’m relentless. Inspired. Decisive. And operating with a certain degree of inevitability.
But let’s also spare a thought for what breaks a career when we’re off the scale at the other end:
- (-1) – (-5) (out of 10): this is what stalls our career. Not just inaction. Not just the lack of embracing the moment. But actively shrinking from it. Throwing-up excuses that mask the fact we’re actively in reverse.
Your most powerful action
Your most powerful action is always the very next action. Because that’s what gets you moving.
You could choose to stay stuck in “I’m unsure”, or “I don’t know”, or “I don’t know how” and variants on those themes.
Or you could choose to act. An off the scale act.