A few years ago, I was having lunch with a prospective coaching client. We were discussing his aspirations—where he was at the time, and where he wanted to be.
At the end of our lengthy conversation, Bruce asked me what the “key ingredient” was. He wanted to know the one thing successful people do in order to create results. What was he not doing, he asked, that was preventing him from pursuing this dream that he was so clearly passionate about?
There are a number of traits that must be present in order to create results. Investor’s Business Daily, in its “Leaders and Success” page, lists 10 secrets to success. Brian Tracy, one of the all-time “guru’s” of personal development, has his “21 Secrets to Success.” Given the importance of each element, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one thing.
But Bruce was looking for a magic pill.
And he got it.
Surprisingly, I answered without hesitation. After our meeting, I reflected on this very point. I realized that this “one thing” is absolutely essential. While other traits may or may not be present, successful people always possess this one characteristic. Without it, achieving a desired outcome would not be possible.
What is this important trait?
Think about it. Bruce had an incredible idea for a new business. He was visibly passionate as he described the entrepreneurial opportunity. He had reviewed the plan over and over, sought input from others and examined the possibilities from every angle.
But he hadn’t taken action. He had a sliver of doubt about the viability of his idea, and it prevented him from taking action on an idea that he had been carrying around for almost six years!
Until and unless he took action, he would never achieve his desired outcome. And until and unless you take action, you will wonder years from now why your idea is still stirring around in your head.
Action sets the whole process in motion. It takes what is only an idea, and makes it real. When you take action, results are produced. They may or may not be the desired results, but every event moves you closer to your desired outcome.
Think about how a plane travels. When an airplane is on autopilot, it’s off course much of the time. But it’s constantly moving toward the destination. I love this metaphor, which so accurately reflects the dynamics of our own journeys.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “There is nothing brilliant nor outstanding in my record, except perhaps one thing: I do the things I believe ought to be done…And when I make up my mind to do a thing, I act.”
Sure, there are other “habits” of successful people. And they are all important. If they are all a part of your life, then nothing can stop you.
You can set goals, and you can think positive, and you can visualize and affirm and practice all the other success habits. But, if you don’t take action, the other habits will all be for naught.
As the Nike commercial says, Just Do It. Decide that you will take one small step. Then another. Then another. Like an infant learning to walk, do not allow the obstacle of an occasional fall to stop you. Pretty soon, you’ll be walking. Then jogging. Then sprinting toward your destination. Just do it! You’ll be glad you did.