The Power of Doing Things

Our legacy is defined by what we accomplish: the marks we make, the impressions on other’s lives and our achievements. It is not the number of strategy plans we launch or the visions we present. It is not the number of meetings we attend or the length of the strategy and planning seminars we participate in. All that matters at the end of they day, what really shapes our legacy, is whether or not we succeed in executing on those strategies and visions.

Far too many managers have good intentions and great plans but fail to see them through, especially all the way through. “Everyone” is excited about new plans and ideas, and every project rallies people around it when it’s launched. But 18 months down the line, when hurdle upon hurdle has been faced, these “everyones” have long moved on to another “start-up-project.” Skilled non-executers can actually skip from one project to the next, like jumping from one stone to the next to cross a stream, never having anything specific to show for their salary.

Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher is often quoted for saying: “We have a strategic plan, it’s called doing things.” Without dismissing the importance of a great strategic plan or proper analysis, he has a very valid point. Because getting things done is a force in itself, a force that is contagious and one of the best ways to build momentum and move out of non-productive busy-ness for busy-ness’s own sake. Analysis paralysis is more widespread than the flu, leaving frustrated and stressed-out people in its wake. And the more data we have access to, the more it will paralyze us, and the more important “getting things done” becomes.

When you assess the people on your team and the people you are about to hire, how much importance do you place on this one characteristic? Is he/she able to get things done? To move from thought to action? From dreams and visions to tangible changes and true implementation? Or is it all about the talk, wasting everybody’s time and having long coffee breaks or endless time analyzing data? Just for yourself, try rating them all on a 1-4 scale on execution. Anyone with a 1 or 2 is literally dragging your team down, taking initiative out of those around them.

Having the ability to execute and people on your team who follow through may just make the difference in your own legacy. The famed Nike slogan applies to life in any organization as well: “Just do it.”