Motion vs. action

written by Philip Stefanov  |  APRIL 13, 2021

In his book, Unscripted, the author talks about a concept called action faking. The term refers to our tendency to do unnecessary things that make us feel like we are making progress. In reality, action faking brings a temporary sense of accomplishment but doesn't genuinely move the needle.

For example, a common manifestation of action faking is to consume information without taking action - books, podcasts, blog posts, and Youtube videos. If it's relevant to your current interest, you consume it. The problem is, doing all of these things does nothing for you. Sure, you might be a bit more knowledgeable, and that can be a good thing. But if you don't start taking action, guess what: you won't get anywhere.

A while back, I came across a comment and saved it to illustrate what I mean. I won't share the commenter's name, as it's not relevant.

“Wonderful article. I read more than 15 articles today and this one was the best!”

At first glance, this seems like nothing more than some innocent praise. But it reveals the process of action faking. Reading article after article might have made this fellow feel all fuzzy inside, but it didn't get him closer to his goal. Instead of consuming enough material to get started, he read more than 15 articles on the same topic, wasting time and effort he could have better spent on action.

The first problem is obvious:

You’re wasting time instead of spending it on productive things. The second problem is that once you become convinced of an idea (for example, a given training program supposedly delivers better results), you spend endless hours looking for more information to confirm your bias further. Besides keeping you stagnant, this can close you off to new ideas and prevent you from growing.

In that sense, applying new knowledge quickly can be beneficial. Even if a given tactic, exercise, or training program doesn’t work out well, you’re still taking productive action. You’re learning what works and what doesn’t. Eventually, you will strike gold.

Thank you for your time! Until next week,



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