Our review of the book Six Action Shoes

WWho would have thought shoes could become metaphors for our daily behaviour? I didn’t. That is, until I read Edward de Bono’s book Six Action Shoes.

Edward is regarded as a leading authority in conceptual and creative thinking. His book Six Action Shoes introduces a creative way to take control of any business and life situation by providing a practical and useful framework for taking action in any situation. This framework outlines six unique action styles that can be taken individually or in combination with one another (36 combinations in all).

The shoe metaphor implies action. 

That’s why we wanted to introduce you to this fabulous book. It’s not enough simply to set your daily work and self-care goals in My Wellness Journal. The single most important ingredient that will determine your success is ACTION. Not all of us have a flair for taking action. Some of us are great at planning or thinking up ideas but when it comes to execution, we often fall short. The good news is everyone can learn how to develop a flair for action. And what better way to learn this than with shoes!

The skill of taking action is a two-step process (pardon the pun).

Step 1: A desire to achieve a goal or objective and knowing what action is required to get there.

Step 2: Taking action to achieve it.

Now get ready to slip on your action shoes to make it happen.  

Six Action Shoes identifies various styles to help us choose the best course of action in a variety of situations. It also demonstrates ways to effectively deal with hindrances that arise as we work towards our goals. We’ve just been a little creative when it comes to the shoe type.

1. Navy formal shoes – or navy court shoes

Navy formal shoes – or navy court shoes – suggest “routines, drills and formalities”. Routines release our brain from thinking and planning because we work within known patterns. At an organisational level, this could be a checklist or detailed procedure staff are required to follow to mitigate errors. If you look at a task or situation and know that it will require a routine, slip on your smart navy court shoes and execute that routine as perfectly as possible. In your personal life, this might include a morning routine such as exercise, stretching or meditation.

3. Brown Brogues – or wedges

Brown Brogues – or wedges – emphasise practicality and pragmatism with a combination of good values, good sense and good principles. It requires us to assess the situation and act on our own initiative. These are situations where initiative based on your values determines your action. For example, think about when someone cuts you off in traffic, or a work colleague is consistently rude and interrupts you, or you’ve just seen a climate change documentary and feel drawn to act. The actions you take in these circumstances are determined by your assessment of the situation and your personal principles.

5. Pink slippers (this one we can agree with!)

Pink slippers (this one we can agree with!) suggest tenderness, help and care. It’s an action style focussed on service because people matter. By having an understanding of the situation and the values of the person or people concerned, you’re in a position to care both for yourself and others. Sometimes pink slipper action requires you to just listen. For example, you’ve been devastated by some recent news or you need to deliver the news that an employee is to be made redundant. Circumstances like these call for sensitivity, softness and respect.

2. Grey sneakers – or ballet flats

Grey sneakers – or ballet flats – are all about gathering and applying information. The purpose of collecting information is to clarify things in your mind. This forms a vital step towards future action. Some situations and tasks that might call for your ballet flats include interviewing a candidate for a job, deciding on buying a new car or writing a research paper. You can wear your ballet flats in combination with your blue court shoes, slipping one set off and the others on. For example, let’s assume you want to learn more about the benefits of meditation or a gluten free diet, so you read a book about them. This information gives you a new perspective that helps you decide to commit to the routine of meditation or a gluten free lifestyle.

4. Orange Gumboots

Orange Gumboots highlight when action needs to be taken as a result of a crisis, emergency or danger. The action is focussed on dealing with the emergency and rectifying the situation. This could include danger to human life where events unfold quickly and the situation is unpredictable and volatile. Getting the situation under control is the first priority. These are not normal everyday shoes. But sometimes life throws challenges at us that require exemplary courage. Emotions are heavily activated so courage and leadership is needed both in making decisions and taking action.

6. Purple Riding Boots – or knee-highs

Purple Riding Boots – or knee-highs – suggest style and authority. In this role, your actions may not be liked by everyone but your behaviour is guided by what’s expected from the role. (Individuals in uniform are a good example this action style). When you’ve got your knee-highs on, you sometimes need to draw clear boundaries that you’re acting in an official capacity. If you are in a leadership role, this might mean that you might have to deal with individual poor performance issues. These aren’t always easy situations to deal with.

Each circumstance will call for any one or a number of action shoes to slip into. When we have an understanding of the style of action a situation needs, we have a guide for our behaviour and are able to create more effective personal and professional relationships.

Words To Grow By

Winnie The Pooh

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” 

Our review of the book Six Action Shoes

by | Jul 22, 2016 | Plan Your Day, Reflections |