There is an idea, embodied in a quote that I recently read, which to my mind, is one of the most important and vital master keys to: living a life of joyeous productivity and achievement unhindered by unnecessary bullshit or false constraint.

It is an idea which has been battle tested by every single person throughout the whole of history, who has ever accomplished anything of significance.

It is fully timeless.  It is the internal foundation and impetus for all action.  It has been, and continues to be, of the greatest value in my own life.

Would you like to know what it is?…

“Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.”

           – Theodore Roosevelt

At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that this may seem entirely underwhelming.  I mean, how basic and common sensical can you get, right?  But if you: stop and read it just a few more times.  If you consider it, just a little bit.  If you can begin to get to grips with the concepts that underlie these twelve short words; then you may realise that this is a potentially paradigm-shifting idea of awesome power, and epic magnitude.

Consider this question: If you want to do something, yet are not doing it, then what is the reason behind your inaction?

Maybe you’re really tired.  Maybe you don’t have the time.  Maybe you think you need more of something: (intelligence, talent, or resources).  Maybe you think you need less of something: (responsibilities, pressures, or constraints).  Whatever the given reason, when you cut to the heart of it, these are all ways of saying: you do not believe that present conditions are good enough for you to begin.  They are all ways of saying:

Not. Ready. Yet.

These three words, combined, form the mental equivalent of a deadly poison.  A highly contagious toxic meme.  An idea which, if left unchecked, will burrow, like a parasite, deep into your frontal lobe.  Over time, as inexorably and as surely as leprosy, these three little words will begin to deaden the very nerves within you until, finally, you are rendered mercifully numb to the fact that important and vital parts of you are being sloughed away and becoming lost to the void.

We all know that, on some level, there exists an endless array of ever-available reasons to: delay beginning, or stop doing anything.  Look hard enough, turn over enough moldy, slime encrusted rocks, and you can always find a good excuse.  Reality is such that, conditions are rarely, if ever, perfect or optimal.  Which is why this is not a quote that speaks about a ‘perfect’ idea.

This quote is not shiny.  It teeth are not laser-whitened.  It’s skin is not fake-tanned.  These are practical wordsReal words.  They come to you bloody, scuffed up, well used, and toughened by relentless testing and exposure in the murky trenches of life.  They tell us: we achieve things in spite of conditions, not because of them.  They tell us that: with a conscious shift of perspective, you can reframe your reality from something that impedes you, to something that empowers you.  They tell us we can.  And they tell us that it doesn’t matter that this isn’t a shiny idea, because: the truth will beat seven fucks out of shiny on any given day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.

Do not let yourself be fooled by it’s brevity.  The idea contained within this quote is as sophisticated and powerful a piece of technology as you are ever likely to find anywhere on this planet.  Forty two, innocuously innocent little letters, arranged into a pattern of twelve tiny words which, if embodied and acted upon, can literally change the experience and course of your entire life.  It is the simple and elegant antidote to everything that holds us back as human beings.  Not: ‘not ready’, but: ‘I have everything I need‘.  Not: ‘conditions aren’t perfect’, but: ‘I can use this‘.

Not: ‘Wait’, but…


Did you like this?

If you enjoyed this you may also like: my love letter to the mountains of Scotland, my essay about how things can be more beautiful for having been broken, or my recent post on how to find beauty, even in the darkest of places.

I’m Working on some Cool New Stuff.

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226 thoughts on “ Do What You Can… (The Evolution of Ideas.) ”

  1. I read this and smiled a lot….I also laughed out very loudly and created new wrinkles (that might be a slight exaggeration.)

    I know many people who have lots of things on the go, they actually go out of their way to find reasons why nothing is finished or even half way there. Discussing this in greater detail, one person admitted that they find other things to do so that he doesn’t have to complete the list that threatens to suffocate him any day now.

    ” the truth will beat seven fucks out of shiny on any given day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.” – oh how this lights up my eyes. You have such a flair for writing and being brutally honest: I like that a lot.

    I see everything as an opportunity: rain creates mud and I love mud, it also creates calm and peace and affords me the opportunity to shop mostly in peace.

    I digress….. There are endless opportunities around every corner.

    Continue to enrich the lives of others. Thank you for being you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “With a conscious shift of perspective, you can reframe your reality from something that impedes you, to something that empowers you.” Wonderful example of contrast. I’m reveling in the momentum of those 21 words because everything we desire has the ability to become. There are no limits, only contradictory thoughts. And when the dominant intention is to be real and authentic, we begin deciphering the code of who we really are.
    In appreciation of your thoughts, philosophy and writing, James.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this and commented:
    I need to read this post every day, or otherwise have it somehow written into my mind, because what you say is so different from what I’ve been hearing and believin much too often in my life, and so, so true. And practical, too. And true, but I’ve already said that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this and commented:
    A wonderful message that needs to be sent out and heard by everyone. Wonderful post, and I am personally grateful for stumbling across this blog!

    Keep the words of wisdom coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there,
      Thankyou so much, I really appreciate the comment, and also the sharing of my stuff. I am happy you took some value from it, it’s the reason I do this stuff.
      Hope you’re having a great day, thanks again,
      – J

      Liked by 1 person

  5. James, This is well said. It’s something that I’ve really been working on changing in my life. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s a challenge to step out knowing that you don’t have all the information you need to do the “Best”, but I’m at a point in life that I would rather try and fail than just keep judging from the sidelines.

    Liked by 1 person

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