Hello, fellow riskoloigsts, from the great Oregon Coast, where I’m hiding away in a small café to get some work done.
Some time ago, Cat Stevens wrote a popular song called “Peace Train.” Here’s one of the lines:
It’s a good song and an even better question. But, I was always disappointed that the next line wasn’t:
“We can. All we have to do is ________________. And I just started.”
We put a lot of value on the people who ask the “hard questions”—the ones everyone seems to be thinking but won’t ask.
Yes, these questions are important, but not as important—I think—as the answers. Why is it that so many people can ask tough questions, but far fewer can answer them?
There’s a hard question. Or is it an easy one? The reason is this: asking a question is simple, but answering it—and doing it well—is much more difficult. And even more difficult than answering it is putting that answer into action.
Big Answers, Little Action
I was out for a drink the other day with an old friend, and we got to talking about politics (not recommended while out to drinks!).
“Why do we have such big problems in government?” I would ask. “Because of X,Y, and Z,” he’d answer.
Then, we’d both sigh and say, “Well, it we just did it this way, everything would be better.
Of course, that’s where the conversation would end and we’d go on enjoying our drinks.
That talk might have helped us become better friends, but let’s not kid ourselves; we didn’t actually solve any problems.
Real change requires action—the scarcest resource in the problem-solving chain. Without it, the rest is for naught.
Big Problem Solving
Albert Einstein famously said, “If I had just one hour to save the world, I’d spend the first 55 minutes defining the problem.”
Smart words—you need to know what the problem really is before you can fix it—but don’t underestimate the importance of actually acting. Those last five minutes are quite critical!
- If you want to leave your job, the months of planning will be generally useless if you don’t actually do it.
- If you want to create more art, then start painting/drawing/writing/etc. Planning out how to find ten extra minutes each day for your passion is less effective than just getting to work.
- If you want to find a boyfriend/girlfriend, then go out and meet people rather than explain your high standards to all of your friends.
- If you want to travel more, getting on a plane/train/boat will be more effective than building a detailed travel spreadsheet and master plan.
The Last Mile
I don’t mean to discourage planning and asking hard questions. But I do mean to encourage turning those plans into reality by any means necessary.
Judging by Einstein’s quote, action is a pretty small part of the equation, but it’s still an important one!
Taking action is what I like to call the “last mile.” Without it, you’ll have done a lot, but accomplished little.
So what have you been planning for a long time? What “tough questions” have you been asking?
Most importantly, what are you going to do today—right now— to start answering those questions and bringing those plans to life?
Comments are off today so that you can actually go and do it.
Image by: KMC designs