choices, decision-making, imagination, intelligence

Step 218: Thinking and Doing Are Two Different Things

“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing it not enough; we must do.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German Philosopher

“Well done is better than well said.” ~ Ben Franklin

This morning Chris Brogan wrote an interesting post about setting a course that made me think of these Goethe and Franklin quotes.

I had a friend who really wanted to find a job. He’s a smart guy though I have to admit that he’s lazy. He expects his intelligence to carry him through life. He would routinely say that he’s tired of proving himself and potential employers should really recognize his intelligence. He would talk about all these grand plans he had for his career and then spent the bulk of his time playing video games and cleaning his apartment obsessively. He made a lot of plans and articulated a beautiful vision for his career, but he never followed through on anything. Intelligence really doesn’t matter if the ability to execute is lacking.

Every day this same friend would give me (unsolicited) advice on my career, my writing, dating, and myriad of other aspects of my life. If I had taken his advice, I am convinced I would now be angry and miserable. I ignored his advice, and eventually that choice ended up bringing our friendship to an abrupt halt. He wanted someone to be miserable with and when I decided not to play that role, we ended up not having much to talk about.

My friend was one of these “idea guys” who wants to surround himself with people who can bring his vision to life. And that’s an interesting idea but I don’t know anyone who wants to sign up for that gig. Everyone has ideas; the ones that see the light of the day and make a difference are the ones that move from the mind into the real world.

By all means, make plans. Change them, switch them up, talk to people to get their perspective. But eventually we have to stop planning and starting doing. There isn’t any other way forward. Actions, not plans, define who we are and ultimately what we’ll be remembered for.