Take actionYesterday was an interesting day for me. I’d been asked to address a guest house forum on tackling social media. As this is such a broad topic I didn’t want it to become another “how to” and chose to focus on the power shift from business to consumer as a result of the new ways we communicate since the advent of the Internet.

I thought the short talk was well received and I certainly saw a number of people writing down a number of points I made.

At the end of my talk one of the delegates started a new discussion. She was expressing her frustration at the local authorities lack of commitment to deliver basic services to the city. This, she claimed was adversely impacting on tourism. She was citing things like, cleanliness of the streets, pot hole repairs, the apparent lack of caring about the area in which her establishment operates and berating the city for not promoting her area.

I thought about it for a bit.

In life I have discovered that in order to tackle a problem one needs to take action. In fact I always break down projects into the next steps one needs to take or next actions. There’s nothing like inspired action to move something forward.

Our delegate had identified the problem, she however clearly was at a a loss to know what to do next and spent quite a lot of time introducing negative energy into the room by deflecting the problem and solutions onto someone else. In this case she wanted the forum to take up her cause. A typical case of putting the monkey on someone else’s back.

Some things are out of our control. Wasting time and effort to try control what we can’t is a problem. It’s far better to analyse what we can do. The question I tend to ask myself is “what is the next step or action I can take in his regard?” Knowing this is the key to move forward. Big audacious outcomes or goals are essential to keep us focused. But without giving them some thought and breaking them down into next actions we will never achieve the desired outcome.

Some possible actions may be.

  1. Make an appointment with my ward councillor to express my point of view.
  2. Identify the steps that need to be taken to remedy the situation.
  3. Identify the people to engage with.
  4. Call for a meeting with affected people.
  5. Plan my vote in next years elections to reflect my discontent.

I wouldn’t know what to do, but by not taking action or assuming somebody is going to do so on your behalf is ridiculous.

In this case I think the lady in question was hoping that the forum would take up her quest. Now as a founding member of that forum I think we need to define our roles quite clearly.

Enjoy breaking your projects and tasks into next actions and see the benefit you get.

Dave Allen wrote an excellent book that many of you know defines my productivity. It’s called “Getting Things Done”. It’s well worth buying a copy. You won’t regret it.

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