Activation Beats Information
Sometimes one of my executive coaching clients gets stuck in the information cycle.
In the quest to advance a career to the next level, a lot of time gets spent googling for information about career growth and professional development. It’s easy to do with so many resources available to us.
As we know, it’s never been so easy to fill our minds with so much learning from business and leadership books, personal growth seminars, professional growth programs, online learning, podcasts and mentoring.
I know. I love these kinds of learning. I can’t count the hours I’ve spent soaking up career and professional development resources.
But I’ve also learned that they’re not enough. That’s because when you add them all up, they’re just information that brings us learning, perspective and recommendations from outside ourselves.
Nice, but again, not enough.
Often, one source leads to another, and before you know, you’re down the information rabbit hole but still not going anywhere.
What’s missing here is motivation and activation. Unless the executive is fired up to act, all the information in the world is useless.
The moment comes when you have to decide:
- What do you want?
- Why do you want it?
- And what are you going to do to get it?
I know. It sounds so obvious.
But our minds are very adept at persuading us that there’s always something more we need to know or some reason why we can’t take the action right now.
One of the learnings from neuroscience is that our minds have very powerful mechanisms to protect us from the unfamiliar or from straying too far from our comfort zones.
Have you ever delayed on initiating an action? Making the decision? Committing to the new habit?
That’s our minds working to keep us where we are because it thinks it may not be safe to go somewhere else.
There’s TED Talk by Mel Robbins, author, life coach, motivational speaker, contributing editor to SUCCESS magazine and CNN on-air contributor. She talks about “activation energy,” or the force we need to overcome our mental inertia and take the action we know we need to take.
Her use of the word “force” really struck me. To beat my mental inertia, I sometimes just have to force myself to do it.
One way to get into action faster, Robbins suggests, is to use the “Five-Second Rule.” This means when you’re thinking about doing something, start the action within five seconds of thinking about it. Take any more time than that, and you might not take the action at all.
Executive coaching often includes working with assessments, gathering feedback and exploring new perspectives to acquire new learning. But I find it helpful in the first session to ask my clients two questions:
- What have you learned today?
- What action can you take right now to put this learning into practice?
Activation generates momentum and beats information any day.