The Difference Between “Motion” and “Action” — and Why it Matters


In the Mastermind Book Club this month, we’re discussing Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, by James Clear. 

You’re invited to join us tomorrow for our monthly meeting (Thursday 5/26, 1 p.m. EDT, 10 a.m. PDT). You can join the Club here (it’s free). 

Club members will discuss lessons learned from the book and how we can apply those lessons to our businesses. You don’t have to read the book to join us. 

One thing we’ll discuss: The difference between motion and action (Chapter 11). 

From page 142 of the book: “If I outline twenty ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. If I actually sit down and write an article, that’s action. If I search for a better diet plan and read a few books on the topic, that’s motion. If I actually eat a healthy meal, that’s action.” 

I can relate. A few years back, I spent a day fly fishing with my son, Jacob, in Colorado. 

Jacob caught 37 trout. I caught two.

I asked him how he did it, and he said, “I put my fly on the water.”

At first, I didn’t get it. I expected more — a lecture about fish feeding habits or insect hatches or reading stream flow. But “fly on the water” is all he gave me.

Then I got it. Jacob is all action when fishing.

While I spent too much time analyzing the water, determining which insects are buzzing, flipping through a box for just the right fly,  re-tying knots, — I didn’t catch fish. 

Jacob spent some time doing that — but not too much.

He spent most of his time in the stream, casting, putting his fly on the water, where fish would eat it.

More time with his fly on the water equals more chances to catch fish.

Action over motion. 

Jacob is a master fisherman. He knows all he must about feeding habits, insect hatches and stream flow. But he doesn’t get stuck on that stuff.

Mastery matters when fishing. But it doesn’t matter as much as action.

So it goes with marketing and life.

We spend countless hours pursuing mastery. We research and plan and draft and tweak and adjust and re-do and ponder and analyze.

We should spend some of our time on that — but not too much. 

I say this from experience. Like so many business people, I have struggled with this. I’ve hesitated to release work as I tweak and edit — over and over and over again.

I have to get past that. I have to release my work. It’s good enough to go. 

At some point, all of us have to act.

We have to publish those videos or launch that website or send the emails or post to social or make that phone call. We have to summon the courage to release our work. 

We have to put our fly on the water. 

We’ll talk about this and much more tomorrow. Join the Club and join us then. 

More about the Mastermind Book Club…

Ted Prodromou and I started the club to help ourselves (and YOU) turn all those books we read into business-advancing action. 

Here’s how it works…

Ted and I will choose a book every month. 

In our online Clubhouse, Ted and I share insights they draw from the books. Community members share their insights, too. You know… group genius.

The conversations focus on how to turn those insights into implementation.

On the fourth Thursday of every month, members meet on Zoom. Ted and I lead a group conversation about that month’s book. 

If you want to read the book and share your own insights, great! 

If you don’t want to read the book, you can still join the conversation, collect tips and insights, and contribute to the conversation. 

In the Clubhouse and at our events, you can also meet and interact with all the smart people who have joined the club. 

p.s. I help coaches, consultants, and business leaders discover and deliver powerful stories that captivate prospects and inspire them to act. Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook and (if not subscribed already) join our email list.

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4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.