What is the most important thing we need to do to achieve our personal goals, our team's vision, or our organisational ambition?
Is it acquiring knowledge, taking ownership, or making true decisions? These are all important, as are self-belief; a positive attitude; exceptional communication; and visualising the future. However, all of these are secondary concerns compared to taking action.
It is not what we know that matters, it's what we do with what we know. It's not the events that happen to us each and every day that determine our success, but the meaning we give to those events, and what action we take as a result.
Action is everything. Without it we may as well stay at home. Getting something right first time takes time; achieving "quality" is very difficult if we don't know what "quality" is; and empowering people is simply not possible. As human beings we are naturally empowered, but we can be disempowered, and have been - too often.
Action is all. And for each action we take, we should ask, does this action take me, my team or our company closer to where we want to go? If it takes you closer, do more of the same, if further away, do something else.
If only life were that simple. Well, it can be, it is people who make it complex - so-called management gurus who complicate personal success so that it seems impossible, IT colleagues whose every second sentence is full of jargon, and managers who hold on to information believing it gives them power. It does not. Action is power.
How does this apply to IT directors and their teams?
Lead by values, and example: always be visible. Take the blame for everything and never the praise (give this to others). Lead by a code of honesty, ethics and integrity. Trust everyone 100% (although they may lose that trust) and invite no-one to trust you until you have earned it. Know that your leadership skills, and your job and personal security, come from who you are, not from your position or job title. Ensure openness through open forums. Ensure your immediate leadership team put this into practice each and every day.
Take your place at the heart of your organisation. IT directors will achieve board-level positions if their chief executive and board-level peers like and respect them, and if they feel IT is an investment, not a cost. Focus on these two areas. Drive your organisation forward through IT for business advantage, not for IT in its own right (there is no such thing as an "IT project"). Equate everything you do to specific, bottom-line benefits.
Taking action may mean taking risks, but the biggest risk we can ever take is to do nothing. When we do nothing we become nothing. It is only our actions that will bring us what we want.
David Taylor is president of IT directors' group Certus