To the Point

How to Turn Inspiration Into Action

What does it take to achieve great things?

Next month, on May 3, more than 1,000 people will gather in Washington, D.C., to honor some of our industry’s most accomplished leaders. The PCMA Education Foundation’s revamped Visionary Awards is a high-profile event with an Oscars-inspired red carpet, a suspenseful awards program — Professional Excellence winners are announced that evening — and a let-loose after party.

If last year’s event is any indication, attendees will walk away again this year pumped up and motivated to accomplish great things. But as any successful businessperson will tell you, inspiration is just the first step to hitting those high notes. The question is, how do you turn that inspiration into action — with positive results?

I’m sure our award winners will share in their acceptance speeches how they got to where they are now. And no doubt they will mention how they’ve been helped by others along their career path. In my own experience, I can say I have been assisted by many relationships I’ve formed over the years. I’ve enjoyed creating rewarding partnerships and working together with industry colleagues to achieve big goals.

Indeed, a strong professional network is often cited by executive coaches as being highly important to success. But, according to Amy Jen Su, co-founder and managing partner of executive-coaching firm Paravis Partners, simply having a hefty database of friends and colleagues doesn’t cut it. Leaders need to “consciously cultivate and realign their networks of support,” she writes in a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, by reframing their vision for themselves, defining what they need as leaders, and aligning with the right people to help with those needs.

Several other HBR articles offer advice from experts on turning inspiration into action. Art Markman, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, talks about the importance of breaking things up. “To achieve a large-scale goal for the first time, it is best to work your way up through more-manageable projects,” Markman writes. This helps you to deflate any overconfidence in the early stages, learn more about what is needed, and get plenty of chances to refine your abilities and increase your chance of success.

Dorie Clark, an instructor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and author of Reinventing You and Stand Out, points out that when things get busy, “time for strategic thinking is almost always the first to go.” You’ve got to force yourself to set aside time to focus on your big goals, Clark writes, on a regular basis.

One thing is certain: Great things aren’t achieved overnight. PCMA is proud to be with you on your professional journey and to work with you to elevate the business-events indus-try. Stick with it — perhaps we’ll be celebrating your successes at a future awards event! 

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.