THE Step to Working Smarter (Japanese Style)

Remember that Coke contest from the 80s? If you collected bottle tops that had the letters to spell T-H-E R-E-A-L T-H-I-N-G, then youd win a zillion dollars.

Im not sure where the drink industry turned the corner but contests and advertisements are no longer all you will find on the underneath side of bottle caps.

The latest beverage I popped open was some high brow herbal elixir that promised energy, health and a stress free life. Interesting claims for a container of strained leaves.

To further my surprise, what I found under the cap was the following Japanese proverb:

Vision without action is daydreaming; action without vision is a nightmare.

Needless to say, this quote made my beveraging experience much more philosophical than I bargained for.

After the laughter from finding a Japanese proverb under by bottle cap subsided, I actually pondered the phrase deeply. It glued itself to my brain for the rest of the day.

So what is it about Vision and Action working together that gives us the changes we so desire? Or, better yet, what is it about Vision without Action and Action without Vision that keeps us from attaining what we want in our lives and careers?

1. Vision without Action Weve all have the best of intentions when it comes to those To Do lists both at work and at home. How about that project, idea, or those personal goals that youve been storing in the Some-Day-Soon vault in the back of your mind?

These are the visions that we have for our lives that are becoming nothing more than daydreams as the months and years continue to pass.

2. Action without Vision

Business revolutionary Michael Gerber says that most of us work in the Technician mode. That is, always doing rather than spending time as the Entrepreneur of our lives creating the visions that will guide our every action.

This gets a little heady but simply put, we create our own mess by not first having a context, or Vision, under which every action takes place. As the proverb tells us, we create our own nightmare.

The Solution

From the enormous project to the smallest tasks: **Know Your Vision!**

Many of my clients work in extremely high pressure jobs. They naturally tend to put out the hottest fires first in an effort to continually whittle down the ever growing pile of work on their desks.

Within minutes of talking with them, their planned actions shift from scattered and chaotic to purposeful and planned out simply because I have them clearly define their Vision.

If their vision is higher productivity and lower stress by working smarter. Every action from our conversation forward will be geared toward fulfilling this vision.

Here are a few questions that help my clients plan actions to fit within the context of their vision:

  • What are you putting up with that is draining focus and energy for your work?

  • What is the plan for the next few hours/day/week?

  • What is realistic for you to accomplish within this amount of time?

  • What will potentially keep this from happening that you can avoid?

    These are just a few questions that create a smarter style of work than, which then leads to higher productivity and less stress.

    Regardless of whether you are in a high pressure job or are just juggling common challenges of life and career, this philosophy certainly applies.

    The proverb of Rob:

    Vision and Action together are powerful beyond measure; so to, is Vision and Action without each other!

    © 2004 by Dr. Robert A. Eubanks

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    Terms of use: This article may be published electronically or in print, as long as the byline at the end of the article is included without alteration.

    About The Author

    Dr. Robert A. Eubanks is the founder of Bridge to Solutions Coaching. He coaches people around the country via telephone to improve organization, time management, goal setting and to create the best darn life possible!

    For a free 30 minute coaching session, e-mail or visit

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