There were three frogs on a log and one decided to jump off. How many were left? If you’re like most people you thought to yourself, “Two,” but you’d be wrong. You see, there’s a difference between deciding and doing.
That riddle was first posed to me by John Petrucci. John was a coworker at State Auto for 22 years and led the department I was in for 18 years. When John joined State Auto I learned more about sales in one year with him than I had in my first 10 years in the business. After a long career with Allstate and State Auto John is retiring at the end of this month. Not coincidentally he also just celebrated his 60thbirthday. You can consider this post a tribute to John.
Over the course of my life I’ve seen the wisdom behind John’s riddle. Far too often I’ve seen people “decide” to do things – change careers, get in shape, repair a relationship, get out of a bad relationship, etc. – but failed to act. It’s as if they fooled themselves by deciding and talking.
If you Google goal setting you’ll find lots of articles that talk about the need for goals if you want to succeed. I’m sure that’s no surprise. What might surprise you is the number of articles that try to dissuade you from setting goals because they see them as limiting.
I’m all for goals because I’ve seen how valuable they’ve been in my personal and professional life. My best personal example would be running. I took up running because Jud, a friend and fitness trainer, convinced a number of friends that we could run the Columbus Marathon. I took up the challenge and failed miserably in my first race, the Cincinnati Marathon.
After figuring out what went wrong I went back to the drawing board. I had some success so I decided to make qualifying for the Boston Marathon my goal. That meant cutting more than an hour off of that first marathon time! Three years later I ran the Boston Marathon. That never would have happened without a goal to pursue.
On a professional level it’s been my goal to turn Influence PEOPLE into a full-time career. I took that step last month but it didn’t just happen because I decided. I’ve had an eye on the prize for 10 years. My goal has been to nurture the business while I worked at State Auto Insurance. I knew doing so would give me the opportunity to step into it when the time was right. The nurturing was working on my speaking, landing outside opportunities and blogging during that time. There was a master plan in place because I had a goal then acted.
The challenge about deciding and doing is this – once someone decides, and even puts together a plan – then the real work begins. For marathoning I had to get out the door every day at 5 AM and run. For Influence PEOPLE it was writing every week for years on end, countless hours practicing and actively seeking opportunities.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that deciding, or even planning, are actually doing. Both are important but they are only the starting point. After that the work begins.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed 150,000 times! The course teaches you how to ethically engage the psychology of persuasion throughout the sales process. Not watched it yet? Click here to see what you’ve been missing.