Over on his Learnstreaming blog, Dennis Callahan writes about the difference between signing up for social media and joining:
Having a social media account (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin) doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve joined. It means you’ve signed up. It’s like signing up for the gym. You can say that you belong to the gym but if you don’t get on the equipment and exercise, what benefit is there to your body?
I've experienced this a lot with myself and with other people. We sign up for something (always with the best of intentions), but then don't actually USE the thing we've signed up for. Then later we'll say that it didn't work.
I've come to see this as the difference between action and activity.
Action vs. Activity
Action is purpose-driven and strategic. It is based on knowing where you want to go and acting in an intentional manner that gets you there. There is a sense of discipline in it because it is grounded in vision and alignment with your goals.
Activity is something else. It is the illusion of action without the driver of purpose or the discipline that's grounded in vision. It is action without strategy.
So signing up for social media is activity. It makes you feel like you're doing something. Joining--really engaging with the tools and the people you meet--is action. It is moving beyond a sort of disjointed awareness that you need to do "something," into a more purposeful practice that is at the heart of real action.
This distinction between action and activity is important for professional development because we can become consumed with activity--more useless acts with no connection to our real goals or purpose--and then wonder why we aren't really getting anywhere. We aren't getting anywhere because we are moving for the sake of moving, rather than looking at engaging purposefully so that we're taking real action.
This is why I think reflective practice is so important. It keeps bringing us back to the WHY of what we do. It helps us be more intentional about our activities so that they are not just movement for the sake of movement, but transformed into purposeful action.
Dennis asks a great question--how do you move from signing up to joining when it comes to social media? I want to enlarge it and ask, how do we move from activity to action in all facets of our professional development?