I find that the single greatest challenge with my coaching clients is a reluctance to act. When we grown ups were young, it wasn’t hard for us to act, it was instinctual. See a tree – climb it. Find a hill – bomb down it. Meet a similarly sized human – say hi. We didn’t calculate, we were too busy acting, and while this may have led to some skinned knees and bruises, we survived all of the action. Unfortunately, my college-degreed clients acting instincts have weathered with years. They calculate, ponder, benchmark, map, think, ponder some more. It is like an accumulation of age and degrees vaporizes their ability to see opportunity (in themselves and in their work) and then do something about it. Don’t get me wrong, being smart and calculated about a decision is wise and prudent, but more often than not, the decisions my clients need to make are not life or career ending, they are about opportunity and fulfillment.
A couple examples from business may be helpful to see what acting looks like. For businesses, the need to act is an imperative right now. In a recent McKinsey & Company podcast on the path forward for the retail industry, McKinsey partners Becca Coggins, Steven Begley, and Steve Noble talked about the need retailers had to take action quickly at the onset of COVID. From Hy-Vee to Starbucks, retailers made bold moves – moves that may have prevented their demise. Best Buy is a great example by standing up a nationwide curbside pick-up program in 48 hours. 48 hours! Did any of these organizations get it right on the first try, no, but they developed a plan, acted, and adjusted as they went. I say this with caution, but retailers were fortunate in that there was an imperative to change. Do you have an imperative?
Like many businesses, people continue in a steady state because they don’t have an imperative to act. If you don’t, you need to “play out” your current state and see the long-term implications of inaction. Then, act. For example, I have a client who would like to make lifestyle changes and find more balance, but there isn’t an imperative to change. That imperative, unfortunately, will be forced upon her by the good Lord if she doesn’t act first. Another family business client is comfortable in his role at the family company, but he wants something different and is fearful of making the moves. This model applies to managing people, teams, developing new products, or taking on the dream project you’ve had in the back of your mind. You must act. Develop a good (not perfect) plan, de-risk the situation as much as you can, and then move!
I am often asked what I do as a coach: I help people act. I help managers reframe situations and take action. I help families organize their ambitions and then activate their succession plans to set up the next generation’s success. And I help one-on-one clients understand their fears and dreams and then take tangible steps to achieve them.
Are you ready to act?