Do something!

Long before Nike’s popular tagline became part of the North American lexicon, my mother was the embodiment of those words in action. She is a woman of great integrity. She practices what she preaches. And she is a woman of few words so her preaching is short and to the point. In between preparing meals, knitting socks, washing windows, tending the garden and loads of laundry, my mother doles out bits of wisdom which are as applicable to me today as they were when I was a kid.

One of my strongest memories from childhood is of my mother repeatedly prodding us to “Do something!”

We didn’t have a TV in our house – “Do something.” We didn’t get to lay around the house being bored – “Do something.” We didn’t get to whine about our problems for very long before we heard “Do something!”

“Do something” was the standing order for most of my life at home. What’s interesting is that my mother never told us what to do, per se. Get outside. Build something. Ride your bikes. Go for a hike. Collect stuff. Play a game. Draw a picture. Daydream. It was really up to us. My parents didn’t fill up a schedule of planned activities, organized sports, or additional classes for us. They didn’t try to impose their interests on us. I got the sense they didn’t even care if we made mistakes. The only catch was that if we couldn’t come up with something on our own we would likely be assigned some chore around the house. It’s amazing how creative youngsters can become when faced with the alternative of having to work.

“Do something” became predictable and even comical. We laugh about it now when we reminisce but the older I get the more I realize the wisdom of her words. (She always told me that would happen too, but that will be the subject of another post.)

The wisdom in these simple words is timeless. They are as applicable to North American businesses and organizations as they were to me and my siblings. When we read the news, experience the squeeze of competitive forces, or feel threatened by new technologies we can easily become despondent.

I’ve heard my fair share of whining lately. However, there are also some really insightful business leaders out there challenging us with new ideas on how to adapt to the changing world we live in. Whining is not one of those ideas.

“It is not the ideas that will make a business successful, it is the implementation.” —SYNNEX CANADA CEO JIM ESTILL

“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.” —ANTHONY ROBBINS

“Never forget implementation, boys. In our work it’s what I call the ‘missing 98 percent’ of the client puzzle.” —AL MCDONALD, FORMER MCKINSEY MANAGING DIRECTOR

“Execution is the job of the business leader.” —LARRY BOSSIDY & RAM CHARAN

As I read business books and attend seminars by important experts and professionals with letters behind their names, discussing issues like “ideation vs implementation” or “rapid prototyping” or “the execution of strategic plans,” I have to smile. Because when you boil down the business-speak and get right down to it I hear my mother’s goading yet again – “Do something!”

Written by Jason Bouwman, RGD

January 28, 2010

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