Words from Dic(tionary)
by J. R. Practix
Action: (n.) 1. the process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim. 2. a thing done; an act.
Maybe thousands, over the years.
Yes, I’m talking about the number of people who have told me they wanted to do something special or significant with their lives, but found themselves stalled by some piece of obstruction.
I used to be enthralled with these tales, feeling that if I could be a stimulus to their progress, then I would be an exhorter of talent, and indirectly, a collaborator in their success.
I always listened patiently. Then, at length, when they took a breath, I would insert a question:
“What action are you prepared to take to change your circumstances and commence to fulfill your dreams?”
I didn’t mean it to be challenging. I wasn’t questioning their authenticity. I was trying to initiate a plan of action which would transform their discouragement into an adventure.
Universally at that point, they frowned and told me that there was no way they had the time, energy or money to do anything other than lament their lack. Foolishly, in the early days, I made suggestions on how they might garner more resources.
I was always astounded at how this caused them to become defensive or even angry, and usually terminated the conversation in a disjointed way.
I realized that the problem with action is that it always invokes a reaction.
Simply because I say I want to do something and set in motion a work schedule to achieve it, does not mean there won’t be a hundred things that will challenge my plan and creativity and question my motives.
Some people call this “evil.” Others refer to it as “bad luck.”
I now understand that it’s just Mother Nature, making sure that only the serious applicants actually make it to the interview.
So now when people tell me they would like to pursue their dreams, I listen for three elements:
- Are they doing anything that resembles what they are describing?
- Did they bring a piece of paper, to take notes? All of us are fully aware that we won’t remember good advice without writing it down.
- Are they asking questions and trying to find new insights, or just relating the finality of their own story?
Now, I don’t ignore people who don’t have these three qualities, but I certainly am aware that I’m talking to someone who wants to commiserate instead of commissioning a new cause.
Yes, the only problem with action is that it demands that we stop talking about what has happened …, and we start making something new happen.