Do What You Can… (The Evolution of Ideas.)

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…

Now.


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.


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226 Replies to “Do What You Can… (The Evolution of Ideas.)”

  1. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as
    long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?

    My website is in the very same area of interest as yours and
    my users would really benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks a
    lot!

    Like

  2. Insightful, and something I’ve been trying to articulate to myself for awhile now. Thanks. Also, thanks for stopping in at The Brass Rag. Come back and see us often, cause you know, we like smart people. :-)

    Like

  3. Absolutely not ashamed to say that that is often me (when I’m trying to do far too many things anyway). I have although learned, that sometimes the true reason for inaction is your real lack of desire. A subconscious reality of needing to pursue other avenues, make other things flourish to make your soul thrive.

    Like

  4. Hi James, thanks for checking out my blog. Couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said, really hammers home what I was trying to get at in my last blog :)

    Like

  5. I agree – Fucking. Brilliant (you didn’t strike me as the kind of person who has issue with profanity). So glad you stopped by my blog! :)

    When I think about all the reasons (read: excuses) I’ve made for not doing or starting something, at the root of all of it is fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of change, etc. The other thing I’ve noticed is that when you actually start doing whatever it is you were putting off, even if it doesn’t come together, you end up with an opportunity for an amazing learning and growing experience which can leave you with more resources than you had before.

    Thanks again for stopping by – hope to see more of you soon!
    ~WA

    Like

    1. Hey there,
      I have zero issues with profanity. Tho, I did once hear a comedian friend say that he is super judicious with it’s use, in order to preserve it’s awesome impactiful power. ;-)
      I totally agree with you 100% on the point you made.
      Glad you stopped by, hope to see more of you too,
      – J

      Like

  6. Hi James, thanks so much for visiting my blog.
    Glad to have found yours :)
    Thanks for the reminder today… Love this quote. Very timely for me right now.
    Gonna write them down. Fabulous honest post.

    Like

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