The secret to effective action that no one talks about

This may be the most important blog post I’ve ever written.

I’m going to tell you the “Big Secret” of every success I’ve had. 

I’ve studied a lot of the “success literature.” I’ve been running workshops for more than 25 years. But I’ve never seen anybody write about this.

I’m not a guy who usually talks in terms like “Big Secrets,” but what I’m going to share with you today does seem like a genuinely Big Secret. 

No fooling.

So let’s do this and take that action

You know that everybody wants to be more effective. Everybody wants to figure out how to take more and better action.

That’s true everywhere in life, but it’s especially true if you are trying to improve your health. 

If you want to improve your health, you have to take action. No one else is going to do it for you. You have to figure out what needs to be done, find people who can help you, and take that action. Every day.

Of course, that’s not just true about health. If you want to improve your life in any way, you have to take action.

So let’s look at how to take your most effective action.

Thing you need to know number 1

New and better techniques don’t guarantee powerful, effective action.

Simply getting better at

  • tracking your time, or
  • setting your priorities, or
  • developing a diet plan, or
  • developing a workout plan, 

or any of the hundreds of other effectiveness “secrets” you can find everywhere will not be enough. 

Effectiveness techniques are important. I use techniques all the time. I’m not putting them down.

But knowing more techniques does not guarantee effective action.

Which leads us to Thing You Need to Know Number 2.

Thing You need to know number 2

It’s not the techniques you use to succeed that matter. It’s who you are when you are using those techniques that matters.  

If you want to take effective action, you’ve got to be internally aligned, all the way to your core. Your heart (I mean your emotional heart), your spirit, must be aligned with your intentions, which must be aligned with your beliefs about yourself and about what is possible for you.

For instance: it won’t matter if you are using a technique many others have used to create success if, in your deepest heart, you believe you can never be a successful person. 

Put another way: it won’t matter how great a system you attempt to follow if, at a core level, you are so discouraged by your past failures that part of you has given up on the possibilities for your own future. 

Who you are being—discouraged or inspired, bitter or uplifted—makes all the difference in your ability to use any technique to create the results you want. 

If you have core, heart-level, internal alignment,  then effective, powerful actions will flow from you automatically.

But if you do not have that core, heart-level alignment, you’ll subconsciously “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” every single time

You know it’s true

You know this is true because you’ve experienced it. There have been times in your life when you have felt “in the zone”—when you haven’t had to push yourself to do well, and when your highest-quality actions simply flowed from you. It felt great, and you had unexpected success.

You’ve also experienced the opposite: times where you’ve felt so discouraged and beaten down that even though you attempted to take action, your poor mental and emotional state poisoned everything you tried to accomplish, even if you were taking the “right” actions.

Again: It’s not the techniques you use to succeed that matter. It’s who you are when you are using those techniques that matters.  

And now, the big secret of being at your best when you use your effectiveness techniques.

The Big Secret to taking effective action:

Energy to take effective, powerful action comes when love touches the parts of you that have given up.

If you are “dirt honest” with yourself, you’ll probably admit that you sometimes find yourself feeling bad about yourself because you are not being as effective as you’d like to be. 

Perhaps you are working on a project, but can't concentrate and keep getting distracted. Or perhaps you can't even get yourself to start. 

Energy to act comes when love touches the parts of you that have given up.

So the key is finding the parts of you that have given up, and to bring love, compassion, and mercy to those parts.

That can be hard because often we are secretly (or not-so-secretly) angry with the parts of ourselves that have given up.

  • Those parts of us that are upset and in pain are weak.
  • Those parts of us that are upset and in pain are preventing us from getting things done.

Our impulse is not to take the time to love and nurture those parts.

Our instinct is

  • to reject those discouraged parts,
  • to ignore them, to push them aside and
  • to try to “push though” against all the resistances and problems that those upset parts of us create.

Abe Lincoln said that if he had six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first five hours sharpening his saw. I’m telling you the way to take truly effective, aligned, smart action is to sharpen your internal saw. And that is done by loving the very parts of you that are so broken that it seems like they are stopping you from being able to act in the first place. Because ignoring them is not going to make their influence go away. 

Caring for those broken parts of ourselves is the "sharpening the saw" Lincoln talked about. It's the essential preparation if you are going to take inspired, effective action in your life. 

But most of the time, when it comes to our emotional health, we refuse to do that critical preparation. 

Repainting our deck

The funny thing is, we don’t refuse to do proper preparation before other activities in life.

For instance, my wife and I currently want to repaint the deck on the back of our house. But it turns out the deck needs to be sanded first.

We are not responding by saying, “We refuse to sand this deck to prepare to paint, because painting is what we want to do, dammit!”

Instead we are saying, “Okay, in order to get the result we want (a repainted deck) we have to sand it first (the preparation)." Most people would respond the same way. Most of us would say, “In order to do this task well, there’s something else that needs to be handled first.” 

But most of us don't respond that way when we are too upset or discouraged to take inspired action.

Instead we subconsciously say, "It doesn't matter if I'm too broken inside to take effective action. I'm gonna pretend I can do it, and take action anyway!"

Then we are surprised when the actions we take don't get the results that we desire. 

It takes a real shift in attitude to go from saying “I need to eradicate my weakness so I can get things done” to saying “I need to love my weakness, so I can get things done.”

It seems counter-intuitive, because instead of jumping right in to your activity, you are spending time preparing yourself, spiritually and emotionally, to do that activity.

But it turns out this is the most important thing. Because if you are not at your best, you simply won't be able to take your best actions. 

Looking back at my life, I see that my most successful accomplishments were also the easiest for me to do. Yes, there was work—and sometimes a lot of it—but the action of working simply flowed out of me because of who I was being inside. I was internally aligned, so my actions were good.

And looking back, I can also see how taking action when I was internally upset led to some of the biggest mistakes of my life. You can probably relate. 

When you care for the parts of you that have given up, that door to effective action can open for you, too. 

Next week I'll get into the "how to do it" of all this. If you liked this article, you won't want to miss the step-by-step of actually putting it into practice. Sign up here to be notified. You'll also get an instant download of my free PDF, "The 5 Big Mistakes People Make When They Try to Lose Weight and Improve Their Health—and How You can Avoid Them!"