Continuing his series on attitude in customer service Steven Harris encourages us to step out of our comfort zone and take action.
“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide
One of the most important steps in all this insight is taking action. There is no point with any amount of planning and positive thinking, if no action is taken. There is never a shortage of thoughts and ideas – but there is often a shortage of action.
So think about what you want, agree what you are going to do and then begin to do it. We are often put off starting something new, difficult or scary for fear that we may not be successful. If we don’t start we cannot be unsuccessful. We very rarely get it right first time but taking action is the first step in getting going and feedback helps us to see if we are on track or not.
I believe that was because I didn’t have all the answers, I didn’t have it all worked out, but I did take action and every time I went off track, I listened to the feedback and got back on track.
During the time we were working in schools helping to build confidence and self-esteem, I often talked about the importance of coming up with great ideas as well as the importance of action.
Right at the end of the workshop, to check everyone had understood the point of taking action I would parade around the room holding up a £10 note. I would ask who would like this £10 note and immediately many hands would shoot up with great enthusiasm. After all, most children regard £10 as quite a lot of money. I would then ask why each person should have it and there then followed a stream of creative ideas of why each individual person should qualify to have the £10 note. We would go round the group and each person would attempt to persuade me that they deserved the £10 note. “I need it for some sweets”, “I would share it with everyone”, “I would give it to charity”. We had many wonderful creative, heartfelt ideas. Round and round we would go, sometimes the exercise would go round the whole group several times.
Sometimes I had to get really close to each child, almost putting the £10 under their nose. It was usually at this point that one person would just take it from my hand. When the disappointment from everyone else had subsided, I would then ask what got the £10 note and you would feel the frustration in the room when everyone realised that what got it was that the person took action. Everyone had good ideas I would explain but only one person was brave enough to take action and actually take it from my hand.
In many groups children would shout out that they had thought about doing that but explained that they had felt embarrassed or that it would be rude to just take it. I would explain again that there is never a shortage of ideas, but there is a shortage of people taking a leap of faith which sometimes means stepping outside our comfort zone, feeling rude or embarrassed and taking action.
Taking action in many cases can be scary. In many cases it prevents people from taking the smallest first step. In her book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers skilfully shows how to break the cycle of inaction and argues the only way to work through the fear is by feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
As a young manager I was once invited to make a presentation to a senior manager. I had, at the time, some experience of presenting to groups at my local youth group and set out to prepare. What I failed to prepare for was the questions that might be asked.
As I began to deliver my presentation I was asked a few questions that totally knocked me off track. This became like a chain around my leg. Every time I was asked or had the opportunity again to make a presentation, I did everything possible to avoid it. This went on for years until I read Susan Jeffers book.
Once I realised everyone has the same feelings and that those feelings never go away entirely they just become less extreme, I was able to move forward.
It is known that that public speaking is most people’s number one fear, most of us would rather die than get up in front of a group and speak.
For those of you who need to take action but are being held back for some sort of fear, feel the fear and do it anyway. You will be so energised when you do. This energy will help to carry you through and fuel the energy and motivation to keep going and do more things that are scary and uncomfortable.