The Six Principles of Purposeful Action
By Patrick O’Neill
Action is principle based. A principle is an important underlying law and a primary source of how something works. For those engaged in bringing something new into the world, whether it is a new vision, goal or structure recognizing and following such principles can accelerate your progress.
Here are six principles of purposeful action:
- Start Anywhere
Starting anywhere requires us to initiate action. “We are the children of our deeds,” says an old Spanish saying. It suggests that by starting anywhere we transform ourselves through action. Initiating action, we create a path of heart and meaning rather than expecting one to be provided for us.
- Take the Next Step
After starting anywhere, we need to take the next step. This affirms the principle that each and every step of the journey of meaning is important and transformational. Goethe provides wise counsel on this matter: “It is not enough to take steps which may someday lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.”
- Use Your Resources
Each of us have a unique combination of gifts, talents, knowledge, skills and experiences. They need to be applied if we hope to progress. Our resources are the one thing we can count on especially when we meet uncertainty. And we will.
- Seek Guidance
Action requires a pilot or it easily strays off-course. Seek out time for reflection and wise counsel from trusted sources. Alone we see only so much. With others we begin to see what is at first might be invisible to our eyes.
- Stretch Your Comfort Zone
Creative tension is the force that stretches our capacity for openness, creativity and problem solving. It appears when we begin to explore possibilities, and especially when we attempt to bridge the gap between possibilities and outcomes. View it as a form of “therapeutic irritation” because it forces us to stretch, grow, and change in order to act in new and original ways.
- Be Open to Outcome
“Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome” is one of the powerful principles expressed in The Four-Fold Way, by Angeles Arrien. It is the best way one can prepare for the unexpected to happen with a certain degree of detachment. Arrien defines detachment as “the capacity to care deeply from an objective place.” Openness allows for elegant solutions to problems that we encounter to occur, solutions that we may not have considered.