Action v. Inaction


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I was talking to an old friend of mine recently. He gave me a riddle:

Three guys were sitting at a bar when one of them decided to leave. How many were left?

The answer? Three.

Deciding to leave is far different than actually doing it.

The story reminded me a conversation I recently had with my brother. We were talking about the difference between the words people use when they’re talking about action vs. the words they use when they’re thinking about action.

Take a look:

  • Finished
  • Completed
  • Did
  • Accomplished
  • Wrapped-up
  • Signed
  • Closed

As opposed to:

  • Considering
  • Met about
  • Processing
  • Preparing
  • Thinking about
  • Getting ready to
  • Collaborating

A long time ago, I was told never to present a problem unless I also brought a few solutions. These words make the same point.

The lesson for sales? You’re either doing or not. My recommendation? Do.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeb Brooks
Jeb Brooks is Executive Vice President of the The Brooks Group, one of the world's Top Ten Sales Training Firms as ranked by Selling Power Magazine. He is a sought-after commentator on sales and sales management issues, having appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. Jeb authored the second edition of the book "Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call" and writes for The Brooks Group's popular Sales Blog.


  1. I like the immortal words of Yoda…Do or do not, there is no try. That sounds good when training a whiny, wannabe Jedi, but in reality, many times there is a try. The important part, in my opinion, is action. Are you trying different possible solutions to reach a successful resolution? Some of your efforts may not work out, but at least you are (hopefully) learning along the way. Of course "thinking” about the issue is an important part of the process. Engaging the mind is important, but it is not the stopping point. If you are against a roadblock, try Google, discuss ideas with your peers, experiment with options and be creative. Congratulations, you are now DOING and no longer just passively trying. As related to sales, DO build the relationship, DO discovery, DO listen, DO provide value, DO win the business. Just my musings. Thanks for the posting.


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