Action is our teacher, for we learn by doing
You will never win if you never begin (Robert H. Schuller)
According to Michael Landon, “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.” Little did he realize when he said this that he would die so young. He was only 54 when he died of pancreatic cancer on July 1, 1991. Yet, he had already become an accomplished actor, writer, director, and executive producer. He instinctively realized that procrastination is a malignant tumor that prevents us from reaching our full potential. That’s why he was a person of action.
Will we realize, as Michael Landon did, that our progress is blocked, not by what we want to do and can t, but by what we ought to do and don’t? Those who choose action, choose life, for life expresses itself through action. We can always choose between action or inaction. We can also choose between right and wrong action, between doing good and feeling good. Experience teaches us the less we do, the less we can do, and the more we do, the more we can do. The longer we remain inactive, the harder it becomes to crawl out of the quicksand of inertia. While right action will move us forward, wrong action will take us backward. In other words, inaction leads to paralysis, right action to progress, and wrong action to setbacks.
Helen Keller refused to use her deafness and blindness as excuses for inaction. On the contrary, she said, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Helen Keller understood that if we want to get ahead, we have to get started. Or as Robert Schuller said, “You will never win if you never begin.”
Do you ever get any good ideas? Sure you do! We all do. There’s no shortage of good ideas. But there is a shortage of follow-through. Many of us have brilliant ideas, but fail to act on them. Ideas are impotent unless we breathe life into them. It is our nature to be creative. Unlike the rest of the animal kingdom that copes with what is, only humans create what is not. Airplanes, telephones, TV, computers, and books all came into being through the creative power of humanity. And that power is released by ACTION.
We also create ourselves. We become courageous by acting courageously; compassionate, by acting compassionately, and understanding by acting with understanding. If we are overcome by misfortune, what remedy do we have but to take action? When we are mired in problems, action is the crane that will pull us out. Is our fate sealed by the circumstances we face or by the actions we take under those circumstances?
How can we experience the joy of accomplishment or the exhilaration of victory unless we ACT? Action is our teacher, for we learn by doing. It is through action that we gain control over our destiny by shaping our future and creating our reason for being. Action changes us from a consumer of life to a contributor. Each act we take is another brushstroke on the canvas of our life. How else can we know ourselves but through our own actions? The power to act is the power to create; it is God’s greatest gift to humanity. The universe is God’s unfinished symphony and our acts are the notes that are completing it.
How, then, shall we act? Henri L. Bergson explains, “Think like a man of action, and act like a man of thought.” Because of the weight of our actions upon the world and its inhabitants, we need to think before we act. We need to act with responsibility. And when shall we act? How about some time between yesterday and tomorrow? Don’t wait for the perfect moment to act because the moment is never perfect until your action makes it so.
Each breath we take counts. Each breath sustains life. Action is the breath of our soul. Let each one count. Don’t confuse frivolous activity, or simple motion, with action. Purposeless activity destroys time while action creates it. Robert Louis Stevenson adds the following advice, “Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”
We are not assured of success with each act we take. But the thing to try when all else fails is again. If it’s success you’re after, you cannot seek it in general, but need to seek it in specifics. Precisely define your goal and break it down into a series of action steps. Then, lights, ready, ACTION! We can study the rules of success as much as we want, but they won’t work for us unless we do.
If you agree that it’s time to act, but find it difficult to get started, consider what Robert J. Mckain has to say: “The common conception is that motivation leads to action, but the reverse is true – action precedes motivation. You have to ‘prime the pump’ and get the juice flowing, which motivates you to work on your goals. Getting momentum going is the most difficult part of the job, and often taking the first step is enough to prompt you to make the best of your day.”
Since each call for action is an invitation to grow, let’s respond with enthusiasm. After all, won’t it be much better if we do all the things we ought to than spend the rest of our lives wishing we had?