Thursday, January 20, 2011

Action vs. Activity

Action and Activity have the same root: to act. To act means to do something. Yet, in my book action and activity are two different things. Being active isn’t the same as taking action.

There are a lot of activities we participate in that make us look busy but they don’t move us any closer to our goals. Activity looks good and has a purpose but it’s not the most important purpose.

Straightening out your desk, cleaning out your email, returning phone calls and emails are activities. These things serve a purpose. Yet, when those activities overstay their welcome and and take up too much time, they often becoming excuses for not doing more substantive work. They become a problem. They become a tool for procrastination.

Taking action on the other hand, is doing something that means something. Taking action is taking control and doing something that moves you closer to your goals and your dreams. If those emails and phone calls are leading you to more business, then you are taking positive action.

Activity is seductive. It looks good. After all, when the boss walks by, you’d better be doing something! The question becomes is that something just an appearance or is it something that matters?

There is room for both. Some activity is necessary; it paves the way for taking action. It’s a lot easier for me to focus on the tasks at hand when my environment is organized. It’s easier for me to discuss business with a client or a colleague when we have chatted about the little things and created the basis of a friendly relationship.

Be careful though. The majority of the time should be spent in actions that will lead to something. Action should always trump activity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My boss uses this as his email signature. He over complicates everything he touches because of this ethos.

Flawed nonsense - just like other 'power-phrases for the masses'