When taking action in the service of achievement you'll find most of what you do falls into one of three categories—motivation, strategy, or execution.
You must have a motivation, an aim, or a goal. Your motivation is your purpose for action. It’s also important to have a strategy for how you will achieve your motivation. Planning and setting phases for completion helps break up your big motivation into smaller, more attainable short-term objectives. And then—without which the other two are null and void—you have execution.
Action on Purpose
In his book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino reminds us that without action, “our dreams are worthless, our plans are dust, and our goals impossible”.
And to go a step further, I’d add that not only action, but action on purpose helps transform your dreams into reality. And action on purpose is known as execution.
Execution suggests you have a plan and that you’ve developed a strategy for following through on that plan. This is where most people fail…following through on the plan.
Have you ever had the perfect plan? Maybe it was the ideal plan for after college. Or perhaps you had the latest trending nutrition plan. Whatever it was—even if it's dropping the kids off late for school—there was a breakdown in execution.
This could be due to an unclear or uncompelling motivation. Your strategy could be miscalculated or too complex. However, in most cases…no matter how weak or strong a motivation or how effective or useless a strategy…the breakdown happens at the level of execution.
There are two reasons or underlying factors for this: discipline and accountability, or lack thereof.
Discipline is one’s responsibility to their self and, more important, how they act according to that responsibility. Discipline can be learned from a variety of places, but it can only be practiced from within. While you can always become more disciplined, discipline is like a consumable resource that can diminish in strength over the course of a day, week, month, or even year…
When you get tired or hungry, your discipline wanes. Contiguous nights of little or poor sleep can chronically impoverish your discipline. And anything that imposes ineffective stress on your body and mind like arguments, travel, junk lighting, unknown allergen ingestion, interruption of your routine, and much more can all grind the gears of your discipline one stress input at a time.
So, considering that discipline is a critical factor to execution but its capacity can dwindle…how will you ever stay the course of your strategy and execute on your motivations? The answer: accountability.
Accountability is a system of sub-factors that serve to help you stay disciplined. A friend, a family heirloom, a note or contract to yourself, a public post about a goal you've set for yourself, a picture on the biggest wall in your home, your family, and/or anything that can punch you in the face with a reminder that you're committed to a future motivation all serve as accountability factors.
Choosing people to hold you accountable is no short order. The rule is to ask people who you’d absolutely HATE to let down. You may not even know some of these people very well at first, but it’s important you respect and perhaps even have an admiration for them. This is precisely why top performers retain the services of coaches--accountability, among other things.
Remember, without execution your motivations and strategies are shit.
You must harness the power of your discipline and set up a network of accountability and you'll be able to do what must be done in order to get more of what you want!
So there it is, the execution formula:
EXECUTION = DISCIPLINE + ACCOUNTABILITY