Success is a delicate balance of thinking and action.
School taught us to analyze, to think, to dissect every single part of a problem to solve it.
Sure, there is a time and a place for thinking, but it must never take the place of action, and it must certainly never happen before we take action.
Our society is full of people buying countless self-help books, paying thousands of dollars for seminars, and everything else to somehow bring clarity, when the best way to bring clarity is to start getting your hands dirty.
We see this clearly in the fitness world: All of the fitness knowledge possible is already out there. If you want six pack abs, find a plan, print it out, follow the plan, boom: abs. Clearly, information isn’t the problem.
The problem is in the doing.
All of the knowledge in the world does not replace one night of hard work.
People think if they create this incredibly detailed plan, all the pieces will fall perfectly into place and success will just come in a neat little package at their doorstep.
The problem is that real life is messy. There are problems and pitfalls we could never plan for, and as soon as they come instead of adjusting we just burn all the plans to the ground. For some reason if it all doesn’t go according to plan we just quit.
This is where plans are dangerous. We can’t control the world but plans give us the illusion that we can.
As I read more and more books about Theodore Roosevelt, a man who accomplished more in his life than many of us could dream of, it is apparent to me that he rarely planned. He was a man of action. He did the job in front of him to the best of his ability and let the chips fall where they may afterwards.
I quoted this in my past post, but this quote is still relevant:
[A]t one period [I] began to believe that I had a future before me, and that it behooved me to be very far-sighted and scan each action carefully with a few to its possible effect on that future. This speedily made me useless to the public and an object of aversion to myself; and I then made up my mind that I would try not to think of the future at all, but would proceed on the assumption that each office I held would be the last I ever should hold, and I would confine myself to trying to do my work as well as possible while I held that office. I found that for me personally this was the only way in which I could either enjoy myself or render good service to the country, and I never afterwards deviated from this plan. – Theodore Roosevelt
Could you imagine a world where the job you’re doing is the last job you’ll ever have?
For a lot of people, that is a terrifying thought. We all have so many dreams and goals for the future that it is hard to imagine a world where they don’t exist.
However, all this day dreaming can distract us from the present. We’re so focused on our plans, hopes, and dreams that we forget to put all of our energy on the tasks in front of us. This creates a reality where we are giving a half-assed effort to everything around us and ultimately robs us of a better future.
Think about your average day. You’re probably on autopilot as you go through your usual work routine, day dreaming of a time when it will all be different and somehow “better”.
When you do this, you’re not excelling at the job in front of you. This can rob you of promotions, seeing a new solution, and doing the work that will get you recognized.
Are you day dreaming about publishing a novel, or are you actually working on it every day?
Are you day dreaming of being fit, or are you in the gym every day?
Are you day dreaming of starting a business or are you working on your side hustle every night?
Living the strenuous life means you’re working hard at all times. It means you’re looking at the tasks in front of your face and doing them to the best of your ability.
When you are constantly performing at your best, it will always be noticed by the people around you. It is hard to determine when a new opportunity will come, but by focusing on producing excellent work, it multiplies your opportunity for luck tenfold.
Today, look at the tasks around you. How can you give more of an effort? It does not matter whether the task is big or small, what matters is how much you put into it.
Give your full effort. Stop day dreaming. Do the job in front of you so well that you don’t even think about anything else.