Just Do the Thing
I’m a New Balance Guy But…
Some of the sagest advice has been given by Nike for decades with their Just Do It slogan. It’s a simple yet defining statement that separates the doers from the talkers. Until we actually do a thing, all our talk is just theory. Think of it scientifically: An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it. Until action occurs, there can be no equal and opposite reaction—good or bad. Another, albeit less eloquent, way of saying this is that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you want to change your life you’ve got to change something in your life.
Planning: Important, not All-important
If your planning to build something, it’s just common sense to consider whether you have the resources to complete it or not. We need to consider the ramifications of our actions, it’s one of the differences between people and animals—the ability to reason and decide not only what is good an expedient, but what is hard and necessary. If you don’t have any plan at all, then that’s where you need to start. Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of us stop. Planning matters a great deal, but if your planning always leads you to inaction then you need to know that the problem isn’t the plan.
Too much planning can lead to analysis paralysis—constipation of the mind. That means little movement. It’s worth considering the old adage, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” We know this to be principally true—we see this every day in our lives. Well-intentioned mistakes, unmet expectations, miscommunications, miscalculations…on and on it goes. At some point we have to accept the unknown variable and step out. This is the very definition of risk, but another truism is that the greater the risk, the greater the potential reward.
A Book on Success
Let me preface this section by saying I am not at all a fan of success books and, as a general rule, I avoid them altogether. Frankly, I think most books on success, wealth, and prosperity should be destroyed in the same way they’ve destroyed so many of the lives of those that read them. It is a terrible thing to chase after money and fame. It consumes people and changes them in ways that are very difficult to come back from. Still, when I was a kid, I read a book on how to be rich—I wouldn’t recommend you add it to your reading list. In fact, I’ll save you the time and the money and give away the whole point. The writer said there are two steps to success. He would state the first one but refused to state the second because he was afraid the reader wouldn’t appreciate the significance due to its apparent simplicity. The first step was this: every successful person in history, every person that ever earned any kind of wealth all started the same way: with an idea. From that point on, the writer laid out story after story of people who succeeded in something. By the middle of the book, I understood whole point (and I never finished reading it). The only thing that the people in the stories had in common was that they acted on their idea. So, this writer’s advice was this: Have an idea, and do it. There, I saved you like, 10 bucks.
A rudder can only steer a moving ship, it does nothing for a moored ship resting safely of the harbor. I hope you understand that I’m not talking about taking unnecessary risk. I speaking to those who have been feeling the restlessness that comes from not doing something they feel compelled to do out of fear. Fear is meant to protect us, but it was never meant to insulate us. The reason I’m pushing so hard here is that most of us aren’t struggling with knowing what to do, or even how to do it, most of us are struggling with starting.
What is the next step? Do that. Go make a sale. Go purchase that first piece of gear and do a small project. Enroll. Make a call. Fill out the application. Go mess up. Get it wrong. Improve. Get better. Figure out what the very next thing is and just do it. Then do the next thing, and the next. Most people overestimate what they can do in 5 years and underestimate what they can do in 10.
Here is an old Saxon poem of unknown origin that I think is apropos:
From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing
Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, do the next thing.
Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.