Don’t mistake results for actions.

There is a big difference between results and actions. Sounds obvious – but only if you notice it.

Kick the ball.
The ball is flying through the air.’
The first sentence is an action, right? There is a clear verb in the sentence –kick – which means it’s actionable. If you decide you want to kick the ball, and perform the action – you get the result of a ball flying through the air.

‘Clap your hands.’
‘Close your eyes.’
‘Sing Bohemian Rhapsody.’

All actions. All actionable. If you decide to do them, you can do just them.

OK, how about, ‘Be nice’?

Is that an action or a result? Sounds like another action. But wait.

‘Figure out your strengths and weaknesses.’ Is that an action or a result?

Let me tell you, most people will see it as an action but for most people it’s not an action, it’s a result. So what’s the difference? The physical and the mental.

It doesn’t matter if there is a verb in the statement or not – if the instruction is for the body, it’s actionable (‘kick the ball,’ ‘eat the apple’), and if it’s for the mind, it’s a result – because it’s dependent on preceding actions.

So let’s look at ‘Be nice.’

It’s not about the verb, it’s about whether the word is instructing the body or the mind. ‘Be quiet,’ would be perfectly actionable because it’s for the body. ‘Be nice’ requires your mind to cooperate and your mind is very disagreeable.

So if a person wants to be nice, he/she can’t just say to himself, ‘Be nice.’ He has to give himself actionable instructions. ‘Drink water,’ ‘Take five deep breaths outside,’ ‘Listen to ABBA,’ ‘Eat a piece of chocolate’ ; all of these instructions are actionable by his/her body and they can deliver a result of the person being nice.

Consider the following instructions.

  • Figure out your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Clarify your personal/business goals.
  • Be a good leader.

Again, nice simple instructions with a clear verbs – but completely not actionable because they are assigning tasks for the mind to perform. The mind gets very offended when given tasks, so you have to give the tasks to your body.

What physical actions can you take to achieve those three results listed above?

If you figured it out, go do it. If you need help, let me know.