You Either Do Or You Don’t: Why People Who Take Action Have Greater Impact
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You Either Do Or You Don’t: Why People Who Take Action Have Greater Impact

We’re moving on in the EPIC formula to finding your EPIC Impact.

There is one universal truth when it comes to having an impact: action is required. 

It doesn’t have to be dramatic action. We’re not talking about chaining ourselves to the railings!

But continually letting opportunities pass us by and choosing apathy over action will limit the impact we have on our career progression and on those around us. We can see that this is true in the real world: successful people in positions of seniority are those that have taken action frequently.

Now, nothing we’ve said so far in this blog is revolutionary. It’s all fairly obvious.

So if we know that we need to take action in order to have an impact… why don’t we?

The top 5 reasons people don’t take action

  1. The F word!

Fear.

We avoid taking action because we’re scared of getting things wrong. We are afraid that taking action will end badly – that we’ll be ridiculed, laughed at, dismissed or talked down to. 

This is a real shame. In reality, although we will undoubtedly come across rude people throughout our careers, most people in professional business environments shouldn’t make us feel ridiculed or belittled for our ideas.

If we’re surrounded by the right people, even ideas that aren’t our best won’t be dismissed. They’ll be approached with a positive bias and constructive criticism. If the people around us aren’t capable of handling situations like this, we might want to rethink our position. 

  1. Lack of time

Often we put off making impactful, important moves because doing so takes time that we feel we don’t have. The problem with this is that things inevitably catch up with us. It takes longer to fix the things that could have been avoided by taking action, than it does to actually take action.

Let’s look at it this way. If we noticed a tap was dripping in our home, we might put off calling the plumber because we’re too busy. The problem is easily ignored. But when the pipe bursts and the kitchen floods, the action required of us is much greater than it would have been to fix it in the first place.

Of course, this is a simplified example, but we can take this perspective with us into the business world. Being proactive is scary, takes time, and is much harder in the short term than just ignoring things – but it could be a whole lot worse if we aren’t. 

  1. Waiting for the right moment

Throughout almost seven years of Elevate webinars, “I’m waiting for the right time” is the most common excuse we hear.

There is no such thing as the right time.

This is not to say that there’s no such thing as the wrong time, either. The two are very different. Of course there’s a wrong time to do things, and it’s up to us to identify when it’s appropriate to take action and when it’s not. 

For example, we shouldn’t take action if we’re not prepared or if we haven’t thought about strategy, outcomes, and next steps. Remember: fortune favours the prepared mind!

But if we’re waiting for the right moment, we’ll be waiting forever. There will always be a reason to wait. There will always be a reason not to do things. Waiting for the right time is nothing more than an excuse – and a great way to talk ourselves out of doing something. 

  1. Avoiding making waves

When everything is ticking along quite nicely, we can convince ourselves that taking action might rock the boat. We might say, “I don’t want to ruffle any feathers”, or “I don’t want to cause problems where there aren’t any.” 

But this is a very short-term approach. Sure, it might be okay to keep things the same in the short term. But our careers won’t progress very far if we are continually in this mindset. 

Let’s consider it this way: if we were training a new puppy, it would be easy to let behaviours slide. A nip here, a refusal to obey a command there – it’s easier to just ignore it. But a year down the line, we’d likely find that we had a very badly behaved dog causing real problems in our lives.

Failing to take action will almost always compound the problems we are trying to ignore.

  1. Things went wrong before

At Elevate, we never want to sound idealistic. We’re a team of realists, and we’re aware that sometimes we do take action, and it does go wrong.

It’s completely understandable that when things go wrong and we get knocked down it becomes even harder to advocate for ourselves next time. In an effort to protect us, our ego might present us with all four of the above excuses to prevent ever having to feel that we got it wrong again.

But it’s okay to get things wrong. Not everything we do is going to work out. 

One of the biggest struggles all people have when things go wrong is worrying about what others think of us. Of course! It’s in our evolutionary nature to want to make a good impression on those around us and to integrate ourselves as valued members of a community.

When we’ve made a mistake or a bad impression, we might feel vulnerable, anxious and embarrassed.

But in all our years of hosting Elevate webinars with thousands upon thousands of people, we can confidently say one thing: people aren’t thinking about us. They’re far too busy worrying about what others are thinking about them!

Getting things wrong can be a gift. It presents us with a unique opportunity to reframe our perspective. What can we learn from this? What can we do better next time? What lesson can we take to make ourselves stronger, wiser, and more intelligent? How can we ensure that next time we take action, it’s even more impactful?

We should never let one bad experience – or even many bad experiences! – put us off from trying again. The best leaders and those in senior positions didn’t get there without making mistakes and, crucially, learning from them.

If we take action and it goes wrong, we can still say we succeeded. We proved that we are doers, that we are proactive, and that we “grab life by the horns”. These are the traits of people who make an impact.

If you’d like to build a foundation of success upon which you can show your leadership ability, have a look at the topics we cover in Elevate here. To be kept up to date with new articles, follow us on LinkedIn – we’ll let you know every time a new blog goes live.