Welcome again to the thought leader Q&A corner. We’re here with the final installment of our interview with Phill Nosworthy, multi-disciplined executive coach, global speaker and influential change-maker.
In our last two segments, he discussed his theory of the gaps—the areas that companies and individuals need to bring together to ensure success. Rounding out his theory are the final two gaps: those between intention and action; and confidence and courage.
Q: Phill, what do you mean by the gap between intention and action?
Intention is what we meant to do, planned to do, and wanted to do. Action, however, is what we actually do.
I’ve met a lot of CEOs and HR directors, but I’ve never met one who wakes up and plans to destroy shareholder value and alienate customers or anger their team. No one plans to do it, but it happens every single day, because there’s so often and so easily a gap between our intentions and our actions. Between what we want to do, and what we actually do.
If I were defined only by my intentions, I’d be quite a remarkable person because I really don’t mean to do the wrong thing. Very few of us do. But, unfortunately, that’s not where we fall down. We fall down at the level of action.
Q: So, learning to close this gap will directly affect our results?
Understanding and scrutinizing the gap between our intentions and our actions is where results are multiplied. Our actions drive our outcomes, and our outcomes generate the result we gain and the reputation we earn.
Some people get results-based outcomes—and they get them quickly—but they damage their professional reputations in the process. They think “my actions just need to drive results.” The problem is, that is an unsustainable approach to success, particularly over the long-term. In the short term, it might be ok. But if you want to instill trust in your name, seeing outcomes as a package deal of the results you create and the reputation you earn is essential.
For example, think of the sales manager who drags their team through a tough quarter, just to drive immediate results. No one wants to work for them again. Or, the business director who puts their clients in the corner for an 18-month contract.
“Our outcomes generate the result we
gain and the reputation we earn”
If the client isn’t happy with the long-term results, they’ll go to a competing vendor as soon as their contract is up. Sustainable results are most positively built by optimizing for reputation. The process of creating and sustaining a positive experience over the long term will build your reputation and drive better results.
Q: How did we create this gap?
For the most part, we don’t have enough intention. We just don’t think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
Charles Duhigg, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of several business leadership books, has done a lot work around habits. He’s noted that as much as 40% of our life is habitual. That means the way I walk, the way I talk, what I eat, I don’t think about most of it. I can hope that 40% is good, but if you don’t stop and think about it, how can you be sure?
Q: How can people get better at being mindful of their actions?
We improve our outcomes by better scrutinizing our intentions. The habit I try to teach people is called “pre-flecting.” So, if we’re reflecting at the end of the day and we’re getting feedback in the middle of the day, we should pre-flect at the start of the day.
I don’t mean thinking about our tasks. I mean thinking “How will I be today?” Am I going to be bold, authentic, decent? Whatever is needed in the day, I’m going to start thinking about how I will be at the start of the day. Nothing has changed my behavior more than this simple act of pre-flecting. It only takes 30 seconds at the start of the day. And then you have something to reflect against.
Most people have a to-do list, but very few have a to-how list. This simple act will unlock quality of results in a way that very few things can.
Q: Such helpful insight! Let’s switch gears to the gap between confidence and courage. You’re not saying confidence is a bad thing, right?
Confidence is something we’ve optimized for in business life. We tell the younger members of our team “You just need to be more confident.” The problem with confidence is that it’s never there when you need it. Have you ever noticed that? It’s a fair-weather friend.
Confidence is mostly mistaken for comfort. When most people talk about confidence, what they’re talking about is the emotional sensation of comfort. But comfort comes from repetition. How can you be confident at something that’s entirely new to you? That is a scenario that our teams find themselves in very regularly.
“Most people have a to-do list, but very
few have a to-how list”
Q: Is that were courage comes in?
Right. When we’re in fast-growth environments, innovative teams and breaking new ground, we can’t be talking about confidence. That’s not what people need. I’ve found it is one of the driving reasons for inaction among teams—because they’re waiting to feel confident before they do anything. After all, they’re just following our advice, right?
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we have confidence, but we can’t afford to sit around and wait for it. It isn’t confidence that people need—it is courage. We need people to understand they may never feel confident, and that’s ok.
We need to recognize this: you have emotions, but you’re not your emotions. Sometimes our emotions tell us to do things that aren’t good for the goals we have. We have to listen to the smart part of ourselves. Confidence is an emotion we fall for every single day. We’re capable of being nervous and doing great things.
About the Author
Christian Homme is a Sr. Copywriter for Tech Data. In his role he creates and reviews content for Tech Data, their partners and their resellers. Prior to joining this position he has created content for a variety of industries including major retailers, government accounts and food-service companies.