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Nothing changes if nothing changes


Stats tell us up to 80% of people who attend a conference, training, or other professional development won't change anything in their lives after the experience. The notes, books, articles, and videos you diligently collected during the experience have been all but abandoned. The ironic part is that most people respond positively when asked if they are lifelong learners. They often take pride in describing themselves this way.

If this is so, why do we find it so difficult to act on those wonderful new things we've learned? We know they'll be positive for our lives yet we do nothing with them.

Nothing changes if nothing changes!

Haven't met anyone who isn't capable of interpersonal behavior change. Is it hard? Absolutely! It's easy to talk about these changes, very hard to do them. Behavior change is hard but it's worth it!

Motivation or Inspiration?

Samuel Pierpont Langley and the Wright brothers were in the race for powered man flight. He was well-funded and had the best scientists working on this monumental project. Meanwhile, the Wright brothers had each other and funding from their bicycle shop.

When the Wright brothers flew for the first time in history at Kitty Hawk, Langley quit. He abandoned the project. Why?

Langley was motivated to be first.

The Wright brothers were inspired to fly!

Now ask yourself...

"What is my job on the planet? What is it that needs doing, that I know something about, that probably won't happen unless I take responsibility for it?" ― Buckminster Fuller

Get Going!

The start is what stops most people. Here are some suggestions for taking action after the experience.

  • Fill out the survey to help you reflect on what you've gained
  • Answer; What would you like to do more of or do differently?
  • Share what you learned with others to help solidify your commitment to new efforts

Having trouble taking action? Check out page 3 of the Gore Company Culture Kit for the "Waterline Principle". Picture a ship floating normally. If what you're about to do is going to make a hole in the ship above the waterline, go for it! Run the experiment. If what you're about to do is going to make a hole below the waterline, take a pause. It's time to reassess your action item with team members. Either way, you're not stuck, you're taking meaningful action on what you're inspired to do.

Being part of lowering the typical 80% "do nothing" rate honors your development and the people who showed up to give you something inspirational!

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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