Beware Of “Doing Something” Syndrome
June 26, 2022
French Philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said: “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
We often immerse ourselves in some activities with the illusion that those activities will translate into some results. We engage in motion and do something because it makes us feel like we are making progress.
Unfortunately, doing something isn’t the same as getting results.
I can share a personal example. A few years back, I had this desire to run a marathon. So I promptly bought a book about how to prepare for a marathon. I excitedly read the book and even made extensive notes. It all was very exciting. Reading the book, I felt I knew what I needed to do to run the marathon. I even shared what I learned with my friends to validate my learning.
Did I run the marathon? You can guess the answer !! I was busy reading a book about how to prepare for and run a marathon instead of actually running. Reading the book felt like I was doing something and making progress.
There are a few other examples.
- Jumping right into writing a sales proposal without figuring out the core objective or need of the customer is. You think writing the sales proposal is equivalent to getting the sale.
- Going on a diet regimen without having a clear view of what you want to achieve. You think starting the diet means losing weight and achieving your target.
- Investing in a particular stock because someone told you that it’s a good buy. You think buying into a good stock means you have made money.
In all these cases, we commit ourselves to some course of action, thinking it is progress. Motion teases us with the illusion of progress.
Reality bites-Motion is easy, but results are always hard.
This is where Henri Thoreau’s question becomes pertinent? The action or movement we take is in service of what outcome? Do we know what we are looking to achieve, and have we asked ourselves if the steps we are taking will help us reach the goal we seek?
While there is this inherent desire to jump into action, it is better to pause first to ask yourself, ” Is this the right action I should commit to?”