Actions Speak Louder Than Anything

  • Posted on: 12 August 2013
  • By: Tina McCoy

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” - Leonardo da Vinci

At a recent conference a colleague remarked, right after a keynote presentation, “There was nothing new. Did you learn anything new?”  Upon brief reflection I answered “Not really.” The fact didn’t bother me very much.  I valued the perspective of the speaker and enjoyed observing how she communicated the content to the group. Presentations with familiar content often tend to deepen my own understanding and illustrate more ways to effectively communicate important ideas to others. My colleague and I both hold a doctorate in education, so it was not surprising for us to be occasionally subjected to presentations on topics that we are already familiar with. But something about that conversation continued to gnaw at me; it lurked in my subconscious mind until further reflection brought it to the forefront.

What difference does ‘what we know’ make?  If professionals possess knowledge about a particular topic relevant to educational improvement, what good does it do? We must be brave enough to face the reality that knowledge is only one small step on the stairway of Leadership. There are hoards of people who care about education. Many of those individuals are willing to help by supporting the field of education. Some people know what to do to significantly improve educational practices. But few act on the knowledge that they have in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner that calls others to effective action. Caring is easy, helping takes effort, and knowing is essential, but using knowledge to support meaningful improvement is the essence of leadership. 

The question should not be “Did we learn something new?” but “What will we do with the knowledge we have gained?”  Our imperative is to act and inspire others to concerted action. Only through ‘doing’ can we truly lead. 

It seems so simple. But action is difficult.  ‘Doing’ is a challenge fraught with complexities, obstacles and unforeseen problems. It’s a relentless endeavor that is never really done.  After all, excellence is not a destination, but a continual journey that continues on past the horizon.  

Our blogs are intended to serve as resources, forums or mechanisms for educators to support each other along the leadership journey, and to act as leaders in the context of their own professional situations.  Thoughts, ideas, feelings and challenges can all be shared and discussed through the blogs. Because educators are often isolated (from others with similar responsibilities), overwhelmed or short on time they may inadvertently stray from the path of leadership.  Blogs can serve as a way to help leaders refocus, consider and share ideas, and help each other answer the call to action through the sharing of knowledge, experiences and inspiration. I hope you will enjoy these opportunities to connect with others who are facing leadership challenges just as you are, and that you will choose to share your thoughts and ideas in this colloquy. I look forward to learning from your contributions and hope that our blogs will serve to refresh your commitment to leadership when you are feeling discouraged or constrained.