Managing the Choice of Action (Part 3 of 4)


The choice of action is the second of the big three (attitude, action, accountability) life choices that form the foundation of achievement.
Let me ask you this: If a key component of achievement is “doing the right things,” then what are the “right things”? The “right things” are those predetermined, effective actions that are necessary in achieving your goals.
Just like the choice of attitude, action is a choice, and the choices regarding your effective actions require your consistent, daily management. Every day you choose your activities. Those activities will either be effective or ineffective.
How can you determine whether an action is effective or ineffective? Simply by the end result. What you did, did it work or not? Effective actions ALWAYS deliver desirable results!

Effective actions

In my experiences working with high achievers, I find a misconception regarding the choice of action. Many high achievers overwhelm themselves with more than they can do and then “beat themselves up” for not getting it all done.
This behavior becomes a vicious cycle of anxious, over-optimistic planning and feelings of defeat or failure.
What’s interesting is that this behavior becomes a comfort zone for many! They are never satisfied because they feel they can never do enough, and this becomes a pattern of thinking and pattern of action.
Here is a key to understanding the choice of action: It’s not how much you do, but the effectiveness of what you do that really counts!
Effective actions are those predetermined activities that support the accomplishment of your goals.
Ineffective actions, on the other hand, are those activities that tend to fill up the daily schedule but are not related to your goals. They are usually things that need to be done but are not directly related to your achievement. For example, the dishwasher needs emptying and the car needs to be washed, but neither will advance your future vision of financial independence.
People who achieve greatly have a unique ability of separating the necessary to-do items (i.e. washing the car, balancing the checkbook, cleaning the office, etc.) from the necessary, effective actions required to accomplish a goal. They understand that both types of actions are necessary, but they never confuse the two in planning their day.
The underlying foundation of achievement is the consistency your daily, effective actions.
If left unmanaged, your natural tendency is to allow your day to be managed by your fears and comfort zones. The danger of following your human instincts in choosing your daily activities is that there is no distinguishing attention paid to those actions that hold the highest payoff.
This mindset leads you to believe that the necessary items on your to-do list are just as important as the necessary effective actions that help you reach your goals, and nothing could be further from the truth!
This is precisely why people choose not to do the high pay-off actions. They are instinctively drawn toward those activities that are most comfortable.

Building Confidence

Admittedly, the most effective actions are usually not the most comfortable activities. And if you are working on building confidence in a new skill, what are the odds that you will naturally choose to work on your new skill rather than choose to be comfortable? Close to zero. And that is precisely my point! You will not do what you need to do.
Developing confidence in a new skill requires practicing something that you have never done before. In fact, you develop confidence from the experience of successful attempts. You try something, it works, and you have more confidence for the next attempt.
The experience is usually uncomfortable. Everything within us wants to revert back to our normal routine. When we experience discomfort, we instinctively seek to return to a more comfortable activity. Your natural, human instincts are designed to measure the quality of your comfort level and safety, not the degree of your achievement. To achieve, you must manage your choice of action from a proven system rather than from your feelings or emotions.

Effective actions are related to the desired end result, and you must always measure your results related to your goals.

Identifying Effective Actions

Not only is it essential for you to understand the effectiveness of your actions, but it is critical for you to become proficient at identifying those actions.
Within every discipline of industry or field of work, certain indicators of achievement can be identified. Those indicators are defined by the significance of their contributions to your success. For example, a car dealership has the ultimate responsibility of selling cars at a profit in sufficient numbers so that the profit from total sales is greater than the overhead and payroll of operations on a monthly basis.
Great achievers have a unique ability to separate the necessary to-do items from the necessary effective actions required to accomplish a goal. We can identify the “indicators of success” by first understanding that the goal of selling a sufficient number of cars on a monthly basis is the desired end result. Given the goal, we can then break the process of selling cars down into the key indicators of performance, or KPIs (key performance indicators).
New cars are purchased by people who are interested in a new car, have the ability to make a decision, and have the money to buy. That defines a qualified prospect. The process of selling a car always begins with a qualified prospect, and qualified prospects are developed through a number of leads that come through a series of advertisements and call lists.
From this simple analysis, we now can identify each KPI:
#1 – Effective advertising
#2 – Call lists
#3 – Developing call lists into interested buyers
#4 – Developing interested buyers into qualified prospects
#5 – Appointments to show cars to qualified prospects
If these five KPIs are performed effectively in sufficient numbers, the end result will be car sales. This, of course, is a simplified example for the purpose of demonstration.
Any achievement goal can be broken into the key indicators of performance using this same system. When you know the right things (KPIs) that define goal-directed effectiveness, it is easier to manage your effective actions.
What this means is you can now design your daily actions around the KPIs in sufficient numbers to hit your desired goals.
As you know, achievement is the process of doing the right things consistently over a sustained period of time. In other words, with KPIs in mind, achievement happens moment by moment, one day at a time! When you know the right things to do, and you have identified the key performance indicators, simply exercise your power of choice and consistently do the right things.
You now understand the significance of effective actions, how to identify the KPIs that define effective actions, and the significance of the power of choice in managing your effective actions.
Your goal now is to begin to build the habit of planning and managing your effective actions moment by moment, one day at a time, by a specific and proven achievement system. The results will astound you!

Your Two Life Choices

You only have two choices in life: grow or decline! There is no in-between position in life. Your human instincts will always direct you toward safety by consistently encouraging you to stay where you are and to not change.
If you choose achievement, you must build the habit of planning and managing your daily actions by a proven system. Your human instincts will not be sufficient.
This is no easy task, and I have found that it takes consistent practice to develop this habit. It takes approximately 90 days of practice to begin to actually see your new planning habit begin to work. It is not easy to bypass your human instincts. It takes constant diligence and focus to stay on track.
In developing this habit of personal management, never beat yourself up over forgetting a day here and there. That is natural and happens to everyone. When you find yourself off track and going back to your old comfort zones, stop and immediately get back to your proven system.

Measuring Your Effective Actions

Remember that it is important to manage your effective actions in sufficient numbers to accomplish your goal. This requires that you measure your KPIs by what we call a “benchmark.” A benchmark is a time-proven standard for each KPI that, when performed at that level of activity, will produce a given degree of achievement.
Take another look at the car dealership example. The dealer must sell a certain number of cars monthly to produce the desired level of profitability. Let’s say that the dealership must sell 20 cars each month to hit its goal, and from past experience the dealer knows that it takes 60 qualified prospects with a 33% closing average to sell 20 cars.
It takes approximately 90 days of practice to begin to actually see your new planning habit begin to work. So, the benchmark for monthly qualified prospects is 60. If the dealership has 10 sales professionals, each salesperson would have a benchmark of 8 qualified prospects per month. Suppose each salesperson delivers 8 qualified prospects a month, the dealership would have a flow of 80 qualified prospects, which is more than enough to hit the goal of 20 car sales.
Using this system, you can determine the benchmark for each KPI for your own efforts. The benchmarks must be based on experience, and if you have no experience with your business, find someone with experience to help you determine your benchmarks.
By measuring your benchmark for each KPI monthly, you can develop a six-month rolling average. From this average, you can predict with accuracy your future degree of achievement. This type of activity measurement is called a “leading indicator” of future business.
Many business leaders simply measure and track monthly sales, which is what we call a “lagging indicator.” Lagging indicators track what has already happened, which means you cannot apply any corrective actions because the problem already happened. However, by tracking leading indicators, you have time to take corrective actions and avoid a future decline in desired results because you are measuring the predictors of future results.
Choosing, identifying, managing, and measuring your effective actions is the key to consistent achievement: doing the right things consistently over a sustained period of time.
Managing the choice of action is a vital part of your system of achievement.
If you would like to read more about this topic, click here to order The Language of Achievement.

-David Byrd

David Byrd is an author, coach, consultant, and a developer of personal growth behaviors in pursuit of Achievement. Founder and CEO of David Byrd Consulting, LLC, he is a master of effective leadership and works closely with leaders and their organizations worldwide utilizing a system of personal management and achievement called the Next Level Achievement System™. He is a best-selling author with four published books, a sought after speaker, and leadership development consultant.