“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” Leonardo Di Vinci, Inventor and Artist

As we meet with various CPA firm partner and manager teams across the country, we often caution them to refrain from listening to the discussion or training from “I already know this…” Instead, to cause real breakthroughs in their firm, relationships, business development and growth efforts or leadership development and transition, we suggest leaders ask themselves, “What am I not doing that would make a difference if I started (or restarted) doing it?” or “What new ideas could I implement to enhance my/our success?”

As I’ve learned on my weight-loss journey over the past fifteen months, knowing that I should eat less and exercise more makes no difference. The ONLY thing that makes a difference is setting a goal (mine was to lose forty-five pounds and maintain my current above-average muscle mass) and then taking the daily actions needed to reach that goal. Along the way, I had many thoughts about what I already knew – eat more protein, cut out refined and processed carbs, exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and so on. I wanted to dismiss the things my coach shared because I already knew them, so they must not work or there must be some action (or magic pill) I haven’t heard of yet that will truly make the difference.

Instead, I developed a plan and committed to specific actions that I reported to a coach on a weekly basis. There were immediate results and then plateaus which required a slight modification to my plan or new actions to take. The result is that after twelve months, I met my goal, lost the forty-five pounds and maintained my muscle mass. I am now on a maintenance plan, taking new actions and working towards the goal of maintaining my weight for the next twelve months.

Sometimes, what we already know – or think we know – is what stops us from producing the results we say that we are committed to producing. Having a real breakthrough requires setting aside what we already know and taking actions anew and discovering what works about those actions and what refinements or tweaks we can make along the way. We will also learn new things we can do or discover new information that will make a difference and guide us to new actions.

What results are you committed to producing in your work or your personal life? Set aside what you already know about it and follow a three-step approach to fulfill on those results, including:

  1. Identify your goal or the result you’re committed to produce – it may be to develop a certain level of new business, deepen client relationships, develop future leaders, get a consistent tax workflow across your team or offices, or run your first marathon. Make sure it’s specific and measurable, including a by-when date you’ll achieve your goal.
  2. Identify (or recommit to) the actions you’ll take to accomplish that goal – be careful not to minimize – or skip – even the simplest steps (they are often the ones we already know, but when we get honest, we’re not doing them). If your goal is to develop a particular leader whom you mentor in your firm, schedule time to meet with them, take them out on client or prospect meetings with you, and invite them to networking functions (and have the discipline to put it on your calendars to ensure the actions happen!). You won’t know the outcome until you try these steps and truly give them a chance. Consistency is key, too, because results happen over time. For example, becoming a true business developer requires many meetings with referral sources, associations or networking groups, target accounts, etc. to build the trust and rapport in your relationships to uncover unmet needs and develop prospective clients.
  3. Return and report status – find someone – or create a small team who has a similar goal as you do, such as other managers and partners who are committed to develop business or future leaders or other runners who signed up for the same race, and meet regularly to discuss progress against your actions, commit to new actions, and generate new ideas or refinements to your plan. You will produce more when you are accountable to someone other than yourself and the synergy and objective perspective from someone else will provide new ideas you may not have considered.

As you finish reading this blog, you are probably thinking, “I already know all this!” Yes, you probably do! But the question is, “Are you doing these things? Are you doing the things you say you’re committed to?” Pick one thing and follow these three simple, but not necessarily easy, steps: 1.) Set a goal, 2) Define and commit to the actions that will move you towards that goal, and 3) Find someone or a group to hold you accountable and help you refine your plan as you go. When you do, you will see movement and results in those areas that will surprise you and fuel you to take more actions and make new promises!

Please post the goals and actions you’ll take in response so we can support you in your success!