"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Sunday, March 11, 2012


[continued from the Last Post]

My voracious reading pursuits over the years have often fueled me with a rich variety of inspiring quotes, especially those pertaining to the subject of "developing action-mindedness".

Here are a selected few I like to share with readers:

"The critical ingredient is getting off your rear end & doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But TODAY!"

~ Nolan Brushnell, 69, American engineer and entrepreneur, who founded both Atari Inc., and the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza-Time Theaters chain:

"We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye... The hand is the cutting edge of the mind."

Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974), Polish-born British mathematician and man of letters who eloquently presented the case for the humanistic aspects of science; was also the presenter of the BBC documentary series, 'The Ascent of Mind', which inspired Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' series.)

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."

~ Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), preeminent Indian leader;

Here's an interesting excerpt from an earlier blogpost I have written in my 'Optimum Performance Technologies' weblog, entitled 'TALK DOESN'T COOK RICE', drawing inspiration from  a very interesting article, 'Move from Intent to Action', by Leo Babauta in the 'Third Age' weblog. Here's the link .

My quick takeaways:

1. Don’t overthink, just do;

2. Forget perfection. Get going;

3. Don’t mistake motion for action. Slow down. Focus;

4. Focus on the important. When you’re done with that, repeat the process;

5. Move slowly, consciously. Be deliberate;

6. Take small steps. And each step is a victory, that will compel you to further victories;

7. Negative thinking gets you nowhere. Positive thinking really works;

8. Meetings aren’t action;

9. Talking (usually) isn’t action. Communication is necessary, but don’t mistake it for actual action;

10. Planning isn’t action. Get to work!

12. Sometimes, inaction is better... if you find yourself spinning your wheels, or you find you’re doing more harm than good...

Now, I can get to work on DEVELOPING THE S.M.A.R.T. GAMEPLAN

As I have mentioned before, getting an idea or ideas is actually a piece of cake. All of us can do it pretty well.

On the other hand, putting them to work or converting them into reality - my good friend, Dilip Mukerjea, likes to use the term: moving ideas to ca$h - takes a lot of hardwork.

It requires deliberate and diligent efforts on our part, in addition to decision making as well as action planning.

Not only planning and scheduling the pertinent tasks to put the ideas into action, but also planning for possible consequences, as actions have dire consequences.

Maybe, that's why very few people like to engage in it.

I reckon another way to look at the whole endeavour is understanding that ideas alone don't create success. Breakthrough or good ideas in the head may give you the euphoria for a short while. That's about it.

I certainly recall my hectic days in the corporate world.

My former bosses in the corporate world (from 1967 to 1991) - Swiss, German, Chinese, Swedish, Indonesian - were not at all interested in - of course, they probably listened to (or maybe, they just pretended to listen to) - my fancy "theories to work", whenever I did my presentations to them or to the board.

All they were actually interested - or should I say obsessed with - were the performance results... the bottom line, to be more precise. Ultimately, actions spoke louder than words.

I also recall a very simple but valuable quote during my years as a general manager - actually, more of a lesson - that goes back to the 80's from Sim Kee Boon (1929-2007), at one time Head of the Singapore Civil Service (1979-1984) and best known for his pivotal role in building the Changi International Airport - making it the best in the world - and also turning around the loss-making Keppel Shipyard:

"The secret to success... is getting things done!"

So, how does one get things done?

How to develop action-mindedness, so to speak?

I like to share some ideas from my own experiences.

I reckon the first thing is to deal with fear, be it real or imagined, as it has substantial bearing on our willpower to execute.

The fear of the lack of ability. The fear of making mistakes or failure. The fear of looking stupid or ridiculous in front of our peers when our ideas don't work. The fear of snide remarks behind our back. The fear of the unknown, because actions require a change in our status quo.

Worst still, we want to wait for the perfect conditions. We want more information for decision making.

The harsh reality is that, in today's turbulent world, where changes are often exponential, how can we wait for perfect conditions or more information? We just got to trust our own gut instincts.

We have to "grok", to paraphrase a science fiction author, whose name I have long forgotten.

Moving out of our comfort zone is always uncomfortable. I had gone through that journey myself. As a result, for many of us, we prefer to stay put.

The resultant problem with this choice is that often a host of other problems start to ensue, like procrastination, inertia, anxiety, worry, etc., which aggravate the situation.

Interestingly, most peak performance experts - so do I - believe that action actually conquers fear.

All it takes is essentially the first step. Baby step, as they say. Once we take that first step, all fears dissipate. This fact drives home the point:

Fear = False evidence appearing real!

In fact, I like the way Michael Jordan, probably the greatest basketball player of all time, puts it:

"Any fear is an illusion. You think something is standing in your way, but nothing is really there."

I reckon another good way to deal with fear is to consider the pleasure/pain equation, as postulated by celebrity peak performance coach, Anthony Robbins.

What gives you pleasure? What excites you? What gives you pain? What bugs you?

Focus on the pleasure or excitement side. It will automatically takes good care of the pain or bug side.

So, to go with NIKE's most enduring marketing message over the years: JUST DO IT!

I would suggest, as a first step, sit down and write out a simple plan of action, with a number of important objectives you wish to achieve.

[Naturally, I am assuming that you have already narrowed down to one viable idea, or "the mother of all ideas", so to speak, after having considered various major issues like market attractiveness, competition intensity, and strategic fit.]

I often use the acronym, S.M.A.R.T, to think about my gameplan:

S = specific objectives with the attendant tasks to achieve each objective: list out all the objectives, according to the various dimensions of your life [e.g. physical health; work/career; financial; mental/educational; family relationships; social/networking; artefacts and possessions; vacations; hobbies; spiritual pursuits;], then, all the attendant tasks you need to execute in order to attain each and every objective, with priority, from beginning to end;

M = metrics: define how you would like to measure the tasks to be executed, so that you know immediately when you have completed them; in a way, it's your feedback mechanism;

A = accountability: sometimes, your tasks may involve the participation of other people, e.g. your spouse, your boss, your colleagues, your subordinates, your suppliers or facilitators, etc.; so, you also need to apportion or allocate accordingly for better control and effective monitoring;

R = resources: you need to identify all the contributing stuff, like manpower, money, materials, machines, methods, management aids, etc., you would need to get all the assigned as well as shared tasks  done;

T = time for completion of each specific task: by next week; next 30 days; next 90 days; short-term, medium-term, long-term;

Once you have the final gameplan in place, all you have to do is just to follow-up and follow-through.

In a nut shell, I would like to add that action-mindedness boils down to revving up our ingenuity engine. Luckily, each and every one of us is born with one.

To understand the engine metaphor further, it's our delivered horse-power - i.e. power delivered to the wheels, where rubber meets the tarmac - that measures how powerful we are.

Here's a fascinating advisory, at least from my personal viewpoint, taken out of  a corporate advertisement of the credit card giant VISA in the Singapore 'Straits Times' newspaper many years ago.

It's one tiny, two-letter word that makes amazing things happen.
Go is action.
It's the spark that starts the flame that sets everything in motion.
Go gets us to try things we've always wanted to try.
Go keeps us going no matter what life throws our way.
Go reminds us it's a big, beautiful world out there, and it's time to make the most of it . . . to get out there and play.
To get out there and do.
To get out there and experience all the incredible things life has to offer."

The advisory certainly reminds me of the importance of a bias for action or action-mindedness.

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