On the Wisdom of Taking Action

I’ve followed The Art of Manliness blog for quite some time now.
To say that it’s changed my life would be an understatement

The articles I really love, are the ones based on philosophy.
And the ones I really love are the ones that resonated with what I already knew, or had read and forgotten

Articles that distilled the advice of old greats like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca, with the new thinkers; Taleb, Stephen Pressfield, Ryan Holiday and Cal Newport.

Turns out, most of them are written by an awesome guy called Kyle Eschenroeder.
My favourite of all his writings is an article called, “10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

And a few days before, Kyle and Brett decided to write a little monster called, “Screw 10 Overlooked Truths! Here’s All of What We’ve learned about Taking Action!

Well, that’s what I would have called it! :)
They decided on the classier, “Meditations on the Wisdom of Action

The first thing on my list today is to print the little sucker and bind it and keep it right next to my well worn copy of Meditations.
This is something I’ll return to again and again.
And again.

The act of “doing” is something that always scares the shit out of me.
Doing something new. Doing something that I want to.
I thank God, that I’m surrounded by awesome family and friends.
Otherwise I think, I would have been a scared turtle-in-his-shell all my life.

This book expands that little circle to now include what Seneca calls the eminent dead. (some of the guys still live, mind you :) )

Here’s a few choice morsels

“The cucumber is bitter? Then throw it out. There are brambles in the path? Then go around. That’s all you need to know.”
–Marcus Aurelius

and

Books About Heaven.
Steven Pressfield relates a New Yorker cartoon in his (short) book Do the Work: “A perplexed person stands before two doors. One door says HEAVEN. The other says BOOKS ABOUT HEAVEN.”

He’s perplexed. He’s considering the book over the actual experience. It’s funny because it’s absurd… and because we know we’d have the same consideration.
Why would we deny ourselves direct experience?
Action is going to Heaven. Abstraction is reading about going to heaven.
(Reading a book can be Heaven when it’s a primary activity.)

and

Acting Is Dirty.
Creation is inherently messy. The Big Bang was an explosion that created everything we know. You were born into this world bloody while your mother endured the worst pain of her life.
….
Honest action won’t take you on a straight path. It may not make sense to you or those around you at first.
Instead, it will straighten your posture on any path you’re on. You won’t fear what others fear. You won’t regret what the others will.
You’ll have scars and remember the lessons they taught you. Others will look fragile because while they kept their training wheels on you let yourself fall down, endure the pain, and do it again.

and

“Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy…”.

“… but where are they.”
–Plutarch, Sayings of the Spartans

The Spartans knew they would meet the enemy and fight with courage. They didn’t ask for unnecessary information.
You don’t need to either.
Gather the minimum information you need to begin.
Then, before you think you’re ready, begin.

and

Motivation Follows Action.
Our fatal mistake is waiting to be motivated before we take action.

Action motivates.
I don’t feel like working out until I get my blood flowing. I’m too tired to have sex until we’ve begun. I don’t want to go to the party until I’m there.
Motivation will follow if you have the balls to go without them.

My favourites are the two examples of the principle I currently work so hard to achieve

Meditation as Action.
Meditation connects the mind to reality.
It is pure action. There is no frustration of what should be done. There is only doing.
Meditation is a right action that acts as a catalyst for more right action.
How do you meditate?
One way: Sit down. Set a timer for twenty minutes. Close your eyes. Feel the sensation of air flowing in and out of your nostrils and on your upper lip. Each time your mind wanders bring it back to the sensation. Do not get upset when your mind wanders; the point is to become more aware of your thoughts, not get rid of them. And whatever you do, don’t get upset at being upset.

alongside

Action is Waiting.
The most difficult action to take is often non-action.
Not stillness out of laziness, but out of self-discipline.
Waiting to look at your phone until your date is over.
Waiting for the other guy to stumble in a negotiation. Waiting to work out until your injury is healed.
The sniper must be patient. Warren Buffett says he makes mistakes every time he is bored with too much money.

Patience is an action. Laziness is not.

The booklet ends with …

Everything you do matters.
Act accordingly.

So do yourself a favour, take action and go grab the free pdf booklet right now.