Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Take action. Be a leaderWhat you do matters. What you do each day matters. The decisions that you make are important.
Sometimes we forget that our role, our decisions and our actions play an important part in the world around us. It is especially easy to forget when we are faced with overwhelming circumstances or events. Many people who care about the environment feel overwhelmed by the scale of the challenges we face. In that same way many businesses and households are reeling in the face of a global financial crisis.
It is so easy to go into a state of stasis – doing nothing, or just reacting to our immediate challenges. The worst thing to do is nothing. Reacting may mean reducing your budget and cutting out excess spending. It may be reducing your environmental impact by buying less stuff. The problem is that reacting is defensive, like pulling your hand away from a hot stove. If you are always defending you are never going anywhere and standing still is a bad idea in a rapidly changing world.
Responding is better, initiating is best. When we respond we take positive actions, actions which improve our lives rather than deprive them. Environmentalists often go wrong by focussing on what we need to take away rather than on how we can improve and benefit our lives right now, but we know from dieting that deprivation is a temporary solution which leads to overindulgence. Respond by adding positive actions.
When we initiate we go beyond ourselves. We push beyond our own personal boundaries and lead people to new places. Creating new innovative products or processes in a slow market is initiating. Starting a recycling programme within your community (your street or neighbourhood) is initiating. Everyone has the opportunity to be a leader, whether you are a young engineer trying to push new ideas into a big company, or a housewife who wants to create a better life for your family. You may lead just a few people, or many – what matters is that you take action. We need you to lead.
Taking action is difficult and requires consistency and effort, so I would like to leave you with this story about Jerry Seinfeld.
Jerry says that to be a better comic you have to create better jokes, and to create better jokes you have to write everyday. He puts a big calendar on a prominent wall and every day that he fulfills his task of writing a new joke he gets to put a big red cross on the calendar. After a few days of doing this consitently you will have a chain. Jerry says, "Your only job is to not break the chain. Don't break the chain."
Innovate, be consistent, keep taking action, what you do matters. We need you to lead.
Kudos to Seth Godin and his book Tribes which inspired this post. You can get a free audio version of Tribes. Read the book or listen to the audio version – it is a valuable investment of your time and effort.
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About Engineer Simplicity
Engineer Simplicity specialises in the design and development of electronic products.
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