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How To Shorten The Distance Between Saying And Doing


“Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.”

Another of my favourite sayings ever.

I read that in a book somewhere at some point in my early years and it captured my imagination. My first reaction to stuff like the above quote is to take it literally before looking for the metaphors, similes, and puns.

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

You can therefore imagine what I thought when I focused on the keywords: between, saying, doing, shoe, and worn. Because I like to walk, it was easy to imagine that there is considerable distance between saying and doing. And there actually is – just not in literal terms.

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Take, for example, exercising. Doing something as simple as twenty pushups in the morning doesn’t sound like much – neither does jogging for twenty minutes. But when it comes to actually doing, it’s like pushing a round boulder uphill.

It isn’t beans.

Another example is what I like to call the talent myth. Too many people believe the only thing needed to succeed is talent. I disagree. Talent is nothing without discipline, hard work, focus and providence. We might not be able to influence providence (depending on your religious beliefs or lack thereof), but we have control over the other three.

To illustrate my point today, I will use two Bible stories. (Please note that you don’t need to be religious to appreciate these stories; they illustrate clearly simple common sense.)

In the first story, a rich man about to travel calls three of his servants and gives them ten, five, and one talents (talent here is one measure of gold, but you can take it literally; both work) respectively and admonishes them to look after them. He travels and returns to ask for an accounting of his talents.

The first servant had doubled his ten; the second had doubled his five and the last, well, had thought his boss a selfish and entitled man and had, therefore, angrily buried his one talent.

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I’m sure you know how the story ended.

And this is the point – the moral of this story, if you will: talent is nothing on its own.

No matter how talented you think you are – or actually are – if you do nothing about it, there’s no point. It’s as good as a dead lion – great, imposing, and impressive, but ultimately useless.

And that is the problem with a lot of talented people – all talk, no action. Anybody can say anything, but it’s actually the doing that makes any difference. But why do people find it so hard to motivate themselves; to get off their behinds and get things done?

There are several reasons.

One of them is that human beings naturally tend to be lazy. The natural state of things is chaos so it’s easier to not do than it is to actually do.

Just think about a building. Think about the fact that a building that took two months to build can be destroyed in two hours, or even two minutes, depending on the tools used. Think about losing weight, about the fact that it’ll take about six weeks of intense physical workouts to lose two kilograms, and only a week of junk food to pile them back on.

Reason number two is that distractions abound.

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

The second Bible story is another parable told by Jesus – the parable of the sower. He spoke about a farmer who went about sowing seeds and, one by one, Christ detailed what happened to the seeds. Some fell on the wayside and were simply picked by birds. Some fell among thorns and the thorns choked them. This one is my focus.

While relating the parable to the real world, Christ likened those that fell amongst thorns to people choked by the cares of this world. That’s what happens to too many people.

Some time ago, I resolved to stop going to seminars because I discovered they were just an interesting way to waste my time. I found that as interesting and engaging as a seminar may be, the moment I step out into the real world, I forget everything I hear because somewhere in my subconscious, I was thinking as I listened: “Sure, all these sound fancy and good, but how’s that going to help me fix my car? How does that put food on my table by tomorrow morning?”

It’s the same reason I do not read self-help books.

Trust me, distractions abound. That idea that sounded good to you while you were alone in your room while listening to Fela might not be able to survive the scrutiny broad daylight brings with it. And that startup idea might sound like a mountain of obstacles way bigger than you, but if you learn to simplify the hardest things, break down your goals into manageable and objective milestones, you’ll definitely shorten the distance between knowing and doing. For example, losing weight starts from simply resolving to walk for at least thirty minutes a day, and staying away from junk food for a month.

Slow and steady inputs into your dreams make all the difference.

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