My dad’s Whatsapp status has been “Make things happen” since August last year. I would want him to change it to “NoDaysOff” but I guess the current message is still inspirational in itself. Thinking about it now, “Make things happen” could easily have been one of the NoDaysOff Values as it aligns well with the fundamental principles of success. To be successful in your goals and ambitions you need to be able to make things happen. Looking at his status a few days back made me realise how much it aligns with my thinking lately.
I have been having a debate with myself. The debate is trying to answer the question; should I be taking more actions toward my goals and ambitions vs reading/learning about how I can achieve my goals and ambitions?
I have read a significant number of non-fiction books on talent & skill acquisition, success, human psychology, entrepreneurship, and technology. My biggest fear at the moment is that I spend a large amount of time learning about all this and don’t give enough time to put it into practice. That could mean all that reading was just a form of intellectual masturbation. Lately my mind has been biased towards taking more action.
Learning how to program
I have been working as a professional software engineer for about 5 years now. I have learnt about programming through many valuable resources such as books, online video tutorials, and informative blog posts. While I value all these resources, the times when I have really mastered a programming concept is by doing real work. It is from actually building software systems at work and side projects that most of the tangible and valuable lessons came from. While there are software patterns and practices I have read about, never used and have gone on to forget about because I never got to put them into practice.
Learning about entrepreneurship
The same can be said about my entrepreneurial journey. I have read quite a number of books about various aspects of business. My favourite business book is still The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman, such a rich source of valuable information. I am passionate about entrepreneurship so reading and learning about business always fascinates me. However most of the tangible business lessons I have learnt have come from actual businesses I have started and operated with friends or by myself. These lessons include learning about how business registration and tax works, how to acquire users as a technology startup, marketing products, and how to get media publicity for your business. There are also lessons buried in each of the businesses that I started that went on to fail. There are always lessons in failure, but that is a topic of discussion for another day.
A few weeks back one of my friends updated their Facebook status to the following: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”, a quote attributed to former president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. I couldn’t help but think to myself, what if the axe is ready after two hours of sharpening. I know the message from the quote is that adequate preparation is required for any important task and that should not be missed. However, I have seen through myself and other people many examples of the axe being sharpened for too long. In the worst cases, the axe is sharpened for such a long time that the important task of chopping down a tree never happens.
There must be a balance of some sort, I am certain one needs both to learn about how to do something and to actually do the thing. Finding that balance is important, but at this point I sit more on the “taking action” side of the fence. There are just more tangible lessons to be learnt on that side. It can also be argued that you should move before you are ready. Your mind can deceive you into believing you are not ready when you are fully capable of executing the task at hand.
Those who attack problems and life with the most initiative and energy usually win. We talk about courage as a society, but we forget that at its most basic level it’s really just taking action. If you want momentum, you’ll have to create it yourself, right now, by getting up and getting started.
One of the NoDaysOff Values is Action Bias. This is the value most closely related to the title of this blog post. This value is important because it is only through taking action that we can achieve our goals and ambitions. So without asking you to sharpen the saw even further by reading more of this article, go out there and Make Things Happen!