I take notes in most every learning situation I encounter, including at church. It is a way for me to stay engaged and learning during an important 90 minutes of my week. Aaron Brockett, the lead pastor at Traders Point Christian Church outside of Indianapolis, has said something several times, something that has made it into my notes and my mind. It is a simple but powerful idea, expressed as a mathematical equation:
Information + Inspiration + Application = Transformation
While the context in which Aaron is using this formula is different from the context of this blog post, the profound truth cannot be lost on all of us, as achievers and leaders.
Information. We can get this from a great lecture, a good book, or the blog post someone passed on to us. We can get this from a retreat, feedback session, or workshop. We can get this from a conversation in a hallway, at Starbucks, or at a conference. Information or knowledge is a precursor to success, but isn’t as powerful by itself as you may have previously thought.
Inspiration. Think for a second about how you feel when you are inspired. It is an intoxicating feeling, isn’t it? If information is the realm of thoughts, inspiration is all about our feelings. As leaders, we must find ways to be inspired and to inspire those around us. We can and must do that if we want to create new and better behaviors and results. But a great kickoff speech only lasts so long, and only goes so far, and we all know it.
Application. Here’s the hard part. You can’t just read or go to a workshop and get all fired up. You have to put those things into action. Well, you don’t have to, unless you want a new result.
Transformation. That is what we want – the changed state of things. We might not call it transformation, but we want it. We want to improve. We want better results. We want more confidence and less stress. We want to make a difference. And this is what we want for those we coach and lead, too. We want good performers to be great. We want struggling performers to succeed. And we know that those things require more than a good training class or some (brilliant) feedback from us, right?
While we need knowledge and ideas to succeed, it isn’t enough to know something – lots of learned people aren’t successful in transferring their knowledge into results. It is powerful to find inspiration and motivation, and yet we all know that alone isn’t enough to take us all the way to our goals. It is only when we put those two powerful things together with action – applying what we know to the things we are passionate about – that we have any hope of real change in behavior and results.
All of this says a lot about what we can and can’t do in this blog. If you aren’t going to apply what you learn here (or in anything else you read), don’t expect your results to change. I hope you (continue) to find valuable information and inspiration here. If you do, put it to work! If not, realize this is nothing more than entertainment or a pleasant diversion.
It also says more about your role as a leader, doesn’t it?
If your team members don’t apply the feedback they receive, don’t use the things they learn in training, or don’t see the value in the effort, no transformation will occur. There is no magic in training or powerful elixir in your coaching. It takes more than that, and you, as a leader, mentor, coach, or trainer, can’t do it for them – that is out of your hands. Recognize what you can do (provide information and maybe inspiration), and what they must own (inspiration and application).
I hope you enjoyed these words, much more than that, though. I hope that something you read spurs you to action, because when that happens, things can change, for the better.
Remarkable Principle: Transformation requires more than good information and inspiration. Without application no growth will occur.