Archive for December 2011
“Action is eloquence, and the eyes of th’ ignorant more learned than the ears” – Coriolanus
Even back in the early 1600s, Shakespeare succinctly articulated, in the three opening words, the essence of success.
For the grammar police, we understand the difference between eloquence and elegance. In this case, one could argue Shakespeare was actually addressing both action and speech. It is one thing to hear someone say things about action and quite another to actually see the action being performed.
One of the greatest weaknesses in business today is effective execution of strategy. There are many organizations that even lack a realistic strategy to execute. Experience has shown us there is a lot of talk about vision, strategy and direction but little in the way of meaningful action. Conversely, there is tremendous action with little to no vision and accompanying strategy. As John Wooden once said, “don’t confuse activity for accomplishment”.
In almost all cases, there is first a vision or dream followed closely by a concept of how to make the vision or dream a reality. But eloquent action goes beyond simply acting on the work at hand.
There are many ways to envision “action is eloquence”. We can think of actors or ballet dancers that mesmerize us with their performances, with their actions. We can think of stone masons who built the Lost City of the Incas, Stonehenge, Easter Island or the Great Pyramids. The great painters like Michelangelo, Monet, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Then there is of course Mother Teresa and Gandhi.
Their vision was exemplified by the energy, spirit and grace applied to their actions. These qualities are what separate the mediocre from the exceptional.
In the definition for “eloquence” is the term fluency – flowing, graceful, easily changed or adapted – pliant. This is sort of the holy grail for life, work and love.
This concept of flowing and graceful action extends to how we interact with others. I find this particularly true when the interaction is between parties with dissimilar backgrounds. I have seen many a clash between information technologists and the actual business units when flow and grace where not present.
For profit or not, business today is dependent of two key factors – adaptability to change and the actions they take. Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.
When our actions are eloquent we empirically demonstrate our respect and pride for those around us and the products, services and solutions we provide. We strengthen relationships, we build trust and, most importantly, we galvanize the concept of a team or partnership.
We may have taken Shakespeare’s verbiage a little out of context but that’s why there are so many adaptations to his plays. Many a director has found new ways to convey the works of Shakespeare. They have also found new ways to interpret various aspects of these works.
And so it should be in business. We should always look at what lies ahead from varied perspectives or interpretations to optimize our actions and refine the eloquence within.