“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
“The ability to act” is the intentional and effective leveraging of a “set of knowledge” (acquired, integrated, mobilized and used) to deal with a given situation. It’s the winning combination that enables an individual to successfully perform their role and responsibilities in a context of action…In short, to be effective!
For many of us, work takes up the bulk of our days. It is a source of great satisfaction or frustration, and the stage for our emotions and our challenges. It’s the place where, in front of everyone, we evaluate our successes and failures.
What are the factors of a successful professional career? Why do some people succeed while others are simply functional for the duration of their careers, or, worse, only barely survive? Obviously, having some luck or getting a degree does contribute to some people’s success, but this only explains a tiny part of these successes. What happens to those who have had the same opportunities or obtained the same diplomas but who, despite everything, don’t reach the same heights?
We all know lawyers, accountants, engineers, receptionists, administrative clerks, salespeople, customer service representatives, IT technicians, analysts, masons, contractors, chefs or hairstylists. Whether they have chosen a profession, a trade, a career or a vocation, some do very well and others fall to the back of the pack and watch those in the front succeed.
What are the skills enabling one individual to be different from the many others, to separate themselves from the masses and to succeed professionally?
HAVING AN EFFECTIVE TOOLBOX
In order to succeed in any professional context you must have a toolbox. A Doctor has a toolbox… A Mechanic has a toolbox… A baker has a toolbox… Not all tools are concrete and tangible like hammers, adjustable wrenches or stethoscopes… Our tools are often intangible… They are our professional skills!
Let’s define the term “competence” in a professional context: the notion of competence means to demonstrate having the ability – that is, knowledge, skills and attitudes – to mobilize and accomplish a set of "knowledge" required to carry out a professional activity, enabling an individual to perform their role and responsibilities successfully. These skills are the tools that help you to be effective and to achieve the desired goals.
We will discuss these skills in more detail in the next article, but for now, let’s remember that they are all skills that are valued in the workplace and essential to our professional success. Cultivating good professional skills requires mastery of a number of skills that go beyond a simple “taxonomy of professional skills”. The ability to act unfolds simultaneously in 4 dimensions: relationship to knowledge, relationship to task, relationship to oneself and relationship to others.
LEVERAGING OUR KNOWLEDGE TO ACHIEVE THE DESIRED RESULTS
However, just because we have accumulated these skills doesn’t mean that we will be able to act accordingly. In other words, the skills are our tools, but the goal is to put them into practice, to transform them into action… To have the ability to act!
Knowing how to act requires having learned to combine other knowledge in a context-specific and orderly way to take an effective action. It is a matter of being able to draw on your repertoire of various kinds of knowledge, to choose the kind that is the most suitable for the situation, and to know how to apply it. It's the ability to consider appropriate actions and their influence on your performance.
The ability to act is a set of “action” skills, such as having good standards of judgment, coping skills, communication skills, management skills, etc., which enable you to take suitable actions leading to a balance of critical elements (relationships, environment, etc.) in relation to the desired results.
Having the ability to act is to know how to…
In the next article we will explore the notion of professional competence in greater detail. Until next time!