Performance: Taking Actions is the ONLY Way to Produce Results

One of the things I really got clear for myself one day when I was practicing Aikido on the mat is: there is no performance without action–just action and nothing else.

Let’s define what I mean by performance. Performance is the accomplishment of a stated goal within the standard of efficiency established beforehand. For example, my goal for my first marathon was to actually finish the 26.2 mile run. Further, I had an unstated goal of completing the run in 4 hrs 30 mins or less. I did complete that marathon at 5 hrs. So, I performed against my first goal and did not perform as well against my second goal.

As I was practicing Aikido on the mat, it hits me that my performance of the techniques does not depend on anything but the actions I take to do the techniques. It doesn’t matter if I am confused about how to do it. It doesn’t matter if I thought my partner is too big or too strong. It doesn’t matter if I feel too tired. So the performance of the technique had nothing to do with what thoughts are in my head or how I feel about myself or my partner. I came to this realization as I imagined myself as a samurai in the midst of battle or duel with an opponent. In that scenario, my goal would be to be able to walk away to live to fight another day–win, lose, or draw. I really got that it doesn’t matter what thoughts or feelings I may have at the moment, the only things that will achieve my goal are the actions I take. The possible actions were to fight, to run, or to talk (that’s a possible action too).

How does this make a difference in life? Let’s get back to that marathon I ran. I trained for 9 months to run that marathon. I had all kinds of thoughts and feelings each time I got ready for a training run. Most of the time, I ignored those thoughts and feelings and did my training but sometimes I decided to sit it out or go back to bed. Obviously, I trained enough to finish the race but maybe not enough to run it in 4.5 hrs. Also, at the 21 mile marker I started to have cramps in my legs and they really deteriorated my ability to run. I was in pain and I had lots of thoughts of stopping but I kept on putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the finish line. It is the actions in the face of my thoughts and feelings that have me complete the race.

In life, we set out to accomplish our goals and sometimes we don’t achieve those goals. We have lots of reasons as to why we don’t perform as expected. The reality is we just simply stopped taking the actions to make them happen. If we take this point of view, we remove all the story and drama out of accomplishing our goals. We can look at what actions we have taken and we can plan for actions to take and take them to get to our goals. Or, we can choose to not go for the goals and choose create new goals.

How can taking on “performance is action and only action” make a difference in your life?

Have a Great Day and May I See You On The Mat!

Thanh Huynh
Leadership, Executive and Life Coach – San Jose, CA – San Francisco Bay Area

If you would like to chat with me about how I can help you move forward in your leadership and life, please email me at

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