Knowing what to do – and NOT doing it

This week, I have been thinking about why we don’t do what we KNOW we should do. It’s inspired by so many examples – from business to personal to social…

As my friend, Dave Brock, illuminated perfectly today in his own blog, “there is a chasm between what we know to be right and our abilities to execute it.”

Knowing and doing. It’s the greatest tension in all of us.

So, why don’t we “do” better? Why is it that smart/talented/experienced people execute poorly?

We want to blame things like politics, laziness, etc. Frankly, those are the outcomes of the issues at hand. They are not the root causes.

I know there are the usual suspects.

Lack of clarity: the expectations for what success looks like are not clear. Many of us don’t have solidly defined goals with clear metrics and detailed, thoughtful requirements. Instead, we define a “hope” to be achieved (or worse, just a metric).

Lack of empowerment: we aren’t equipped (or equipping) with what is needed to achieve success. For example, did you see Vendor Neutral’s latest research that showed that CRMs are the #1 issue where technology hinders sales? Sales leaders are actually hindering their sales by “helping.”

If I want to generate politics, laziness, etc. IMMEDIATELY, I can take away clarity and empowerment. They are that powerful. (Conversely, clarity and empowerment clean up politics, laziness, etc., just as quickly.)

But why are the lack of clarity and the lack of empowerment running so rampantly today? I mean, we already KNOW that they are important/vital.

My current line of thought involves:

  • Is stress overtaking smarts, talents, and experience and blocking clarity/empowerment? People are stressed, and stress causes poor decision-making and shutting down. Have we reached a point where stress is literally running the show?
  • Do people recognize when to shift from influencing the situation to adapting to it? And vice versa? Stress is inevitable. How we deal with it, therefore, is critical. If we can’t influence the situation, we must adapt to it. Do people even know the difference between these healthy choices – and can clarity/empowerment be affected by them?
  • Are people being given the freedom to adapt and influence – or are they being expected to “control” 100% of the time? Being expected to “control” will only increase the stress – and force more bad effects. (Side note: control is a myth. Just sayin’…)

When it comes to helping our clients, team mates, family, and friends, I suggest using these questions to identify how we can do something to improve the situation and enable better, healthier action.

When it comes to personal application, I’m running through all of these questions to see what blocks me from doing my best in every part of my life that I see sub-optimal performance. I literally replace “people” and insert me.

  • Is stress overtaking my smarts, talents, and experience and blocking clarity/empowerment?
  • Do I recognize when to shift from influencing the situation to adapting to it? And vice versa? And can clarity/empowerment be affected by them?
  • Am I giving myself the freedom to adapt and influence – or am I expecting myself to “control” 100% of the time?

What are these questions telling you?

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

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