There are lots of reasons why we don’t immediately put new knowledge and untested skills into practice like:
- Not knowing how or when
- Being afraid to goof up or look stupid
- Lack of self-confidence
- Laziness or lack of commitment
- Unwillingness to own the outcome
Our careers go nowhere unless we deliver results, outcomes, and achievements where we work. Not doing matters, big time!
Right action v. wrong
Sadly, there are plenty of employees who side-step action when they can. I’m sure you know coworkers and/or managers who:
- Argue that there’s not enough data to make a decision—ever
- Let problems fester and never intervene
- Won’t act without approvals from higher-ups
- Can’t/won’t put skills training into practice
- Avoid connecting the dots
The fallout from all this inaction is often, counter-intuitively, dead-end action. Everyone suddenly gets very busy. There are lots of meetings, emails, phone calls, texts, and scurrying about, all hours of the day and night.
Most of this action is about pushing information around from one person to another, keeping everyone in a loop that likely takes them all nowhere.
We are branded by the results we produce. It’s what differentiates us when we are candidates for a promotion or for a job with another company. Each career move is driven by what we’ve done so far with what we know. That means we need to do plenty of the right stuff.
Knowledge is the essential starting point. If it weren’t, then schooling wouldn’t be central to getting hired.
What we learn from trainers, coaches, book authors, bloggers (like me), and talking heads is mostly concepts and methods. The actionable part of what they teach is in their wheelhouse, not ours.
It’s no easy trick to take new knowledge or skills and, by ourselves, figure out how to use them effectively. We’re usually flying blind.
So our choices are to:
- Take a shot anyway, hoping we won’t make matters worse, or
- Crawl back into our cubicle, risking nothing
Unless there is a compelling reason for us to stick our necks out, we’ll too often choose option two.
Supported action second
I’ve been through this as a manager and with clients as a coach/consultant. You can read all the books about how to monetize a blog, attend conferences about becoming a break-through leader, and participate in multiple training programs on effective supervision, but until you execute the concepts and practices, you haven’t created any new outcomes. Your brand remains as it was.
It’s a rare person who can transfer knowledge into action on their own. It takes a lot of insight into the:
- way we work and lead
- dynamics of our work situation
- complexities of processes
- cross-functional implications of decisions
- work group’s tolerance for change
We need trusted people who know how to operationalize the knowledge we’ve added to our toolkits to help us.
The best thing you can do for your career is to seek help from a respected advisor who has a stake in your success. That may be your boss, a mentor, or even an outside coach (someone who has been in your shoes).
Execute your plan.
Plans keep you focused on action. Hold yourself accountable for getting results from the knowledge and skills you’re building:
- Write down the results that you will achieve for the balance of the year
- List the steps you’ll take
- Name the support person you’ll turn to for advice
The ultimate measure of your business fitness is your ability to make things happen for your company and yourself. Turn knowing into doing and reap the rewards.
Photo from thievingjoker via Flickr