The difference between most successful people and others is not a secret. They do things. That’s right. They. Do. Things.

Before they are ready, when they don’t know if they should, when other people aren’t sure it’s a good idea, when it hasn’t already been proven, or even when they are scared. This is what I tell my kids and what I tell the people I work with.

summit-awardCan this be dangerous advice? Yes. But, too many times in my life I have seen people become experts in a field or achieve something remarkable by jumping in and doing. Not talking about doing. But actually doing it. (No, this isn’t a sly ad for Nike, but they were on to something with that Just Do It campaign.)

Last night at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., the Indiana CPA Society received one of the highest honors in the association world, an American Society of Association Executives Power of A Summit Award for our CPA Center of Excellence®, praising it for its ingenuity, collaboration and focus on the future. This great video that ASAE produced and showed at the event does a nice job of telling our story.

We received the award because of the work we’ve done in trying to transform the education model for CPAs and other professionals. We had no idea what we were doing when we started on this journey back in 2010. We held focus groups and changed paths as we went along. We recruited volunteers and asked them to do very hard work. We questioned our own motives, actions, strategies and common sense all while continuing to DO.

Foolish? Maybe. Incredibly frustrating? You bet. Exciting? Definitely. If I could go back and do some things differently I would, but in hindsight aren’t we all a little bit more genius? I’m glad we pushed through. The CPA Center of Excellence® wants to change how we talk about learning and competency, where we put our priorities (on learning, not on time sitting in a seat) and, most importantly for me, the CPA Center of Excellence® is focused on the needs of individual people. What they need to learn and how we can make that easier and better. The vital skills we started with – Leadership, Networking, Decision-making, Communications, Critical thinking and Entrepreneurship – do not have to be hard wired in to someone for them to become accomplished.

As a rule, organizations seek out those who are naturally gifted in these areas and ignore these needs in everyone else. This leaves so much potential on the table. Will everyone in your organization become a master communicator or strategist? Probably not, but can some people, when given a chance to focus outside of the technical aspects of their job, improve and adapt and ask better questions? Undeniably, the answer is yes. When we don’t give people as many opportunities as we can to DO, we suffer the consequences in a lack of needed skills, in competitive “talent wars,” and in an absence of innovation.

We know there’s much more for us to accomplish, we know some aren’t thrilled about our experimentation, and frankly we aren’t attracting the volume of participation we want. But what we have achieved so far is remarkable as is what we’ve learned. It’s the kind of learning that lasts, the learning that comes from doing.

We look forward to what’s ahead and we thank ASAE, the Power of A Summit Awards Steering Committee, our Board of Directors, the CPA Center of Excellence® Board of Directors, our volunteers, and our outstanding staff.