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Taking Action

Written by: Rich Parsons, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Awareness…what is the big deal about this word/concept. There is much to read and listen to on the topic of awareness. John Maxwell dedicated a chapter to The Law of Awareness in his book, "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth", and other well-known authors, coaches, leaders, and speakers have tackled the topic in a variety of ways. Some refer to it as self-awareness, personal awareness, or plain and simple awareness. No matter the preference, the premise is the same…” knowledge of” something.

A child in a valley with galaxy in his mind

The knowledge that is gained from awareness is practically endless, and it depends on each person for the degree of depth. One person could have a life-altering revelation that changes everything they do, and another could simply get a small nugget that allows them to change how they hold a musical instrument, throw a ball or give a “tell” at the poker table. How the knowledge is gained also differs.

When something is “unknown to self” and “known to others,” then that is considered a blind spot. You can see a visual diagram of this in the four quadrants of the Johari Window.

The Johari Window Model was named after its developers Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955 as a psychological model to help explain factors of relationships and mutual understanding amongst members of a group2. The purpose behind the model was to improve communication and understanding and thereby increase the awareness (knowledge) of group members.

When referenced in terms of a transformation, awareness is but one part of a process, but a very important part of it. Awareness on its own, depending on the context and what is revealed, could be somewhat of a hollow realization. The most prolific level of awareness, when viewed through the lenses of transformation, is nothing without a degree of the associated action. Without action, there is no transformation. Without action to change in how a ball is gripped, there is no difference in the trajectory. Without a change in stance, there is no difference in the outcome over what it was before. Without a “change of heart” towards someone, the same flawed mindset will remain.

Activity vs. Action

I’d like to dig a bit deeper into what it means to take action. First, there has to be a good understanding of what action is and what it is not. You would not think that one would have to explain what action is not, but I have found many times over that there is some confusion. Honestly, it is a somewhat simple to confuse activity with action; however, there is a difference. Heck, I’ve done it myself. Let me share a few examples where activity can be confused for action.

An activity is something that you do that does not necessarily produce a result. For instance, if you read a blog article or a catchy social media post but fail to respond, share it, or take some sort of action, you have been active but did not take action. You can conduct research for your next bestselling book, but until you actually put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard for a transcript, you have not produced a real outcome, a result of all of your activity. Some could even argue that until you present the book transcript to an editor or publisher, you have not actually produced an outcome/result. So, based on what an activity is, it is now pretty easy to understand what action is.

Activity + Action

Being action-oriented means that you are likely to produce results, whereas being activity-oriented means that you will be busy but not have a lot to really show for it. Keeping with the examples above, when you type out a blog and send it, you have taken an action. The research leading to the blog is the activity. Writing the book (action), editing the book (action), research for content and quotes (activities). A lot of the time, the research and all the preparation activities get us bogged down to where we end up spending so much time being busy, but not truly productive. Can you think of times that you have been more focused on activities, thinking that you were actually taking action and producing results? I think we all can.

I can think of times in my own life when I have taken action. I once had an idea to launch a fitness event at the Navy base I was working on, so I conducted the research and brainstormed what I needed to have for the event to be a success. Once I had a good idea of what was needed from my activities, I was able to put steps into motion (action) to organize the event. I went to offices, sent e-mails, and made phone calls to arrange the location, equipment, and all the support that I needed to pull it off. Those were all actions that stemmed from the activities I had already completed. Without action, my “Memorial Day Murph” event wouldn’t have happened, and 34 people wouldn’t have tortured themselves, myself included, to honor a fallen Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer Michael Murphy. Actions produce results…good or bad but result nonetheless.

I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your past experiences. When you find something that was either super productive or not very productive at all, jot down a few notes so you can come back to it for a focused deep dive into what could’ve been better and what you want to keep as part of the process. This will help you focus future efforts in the right direction…both activities and actions.

As I wrap up this article about awareness and the importance of activities and action, remember that you can have activities without action, but rare is the time when there is action without some level of activity in advance of it. Activities are important because, without them, the action step could be easily misdirected. Could you imagine firing a weapon without first getting the activity of getting the bullets, loading up the weapon and getting the sights set, then pulling the trigger.

Check out these articles referencing taking action:

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Rich Parsons, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Rich Parsons applies nearly 30 years of leadership expertise in the military and civilian sectors to develop entrepreneurs and professionals so they can show up at their very best every day. Rich helps clients get unstuck and stop hitting walls that prevent their ability to accelerate progress towards their goals. He founded and launched a magazine, called Your Success, in which he helps entrepreneurs increase credibility, expert status and exposure to more than 120k potential readers.



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