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. Reblogged this and commented:
    This is a really well written encouragement to everyone to make something from today. If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll likely never begin. Sometimes, the best place to think about what you really want to achieve is in action towards that goal.
    I challenge everyone to consider what it is they are dreaming of, and take the first step towards that today.


  2. Love this one! I have always said to live in your truth, and it is subjective I took it to a whole different perspective for me. My favorite line…”the truth will beat seven fucks out of shiny on any given day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.”…because just yes…I am so new to this world called blogging, I appreciate every view and like, always check the person out. I have to say though, I really like your view on life, giving back and your blog is awesome. Thanks for the like on my post…good luck with all you keep doing :)


    1. Hey there,
      Thanks a lot for this comment, I appreciate it and am glad you took the time to write me.
      I really like your blog, it is super interesting, and I have a lot of respect for your honesty.
      More power to you!
      – J
      P.S. – That is probably my favourite line too ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this and commented:
    This seems like really great advice. I admit, I suffer from a problem where I’m forever putting things off. I never feel ready, so I keep training. I buy more textbooks and teach myself new skills and yet I still don’t feel ready. It’s like in my mind I’ll never be good enough to do the things I really want despite the protests from my friends. I have many game and art ideas, but most of them never get started because I always feel like I need to do more planning. I guess if we always put things off we may never get anywhere, and I reckon our skills will grow much more quickly if we push ourselves earlier on than waiting for when it feels right. This is a big issue for me, but it seems I’m not alone in struggling with this.


    1. Hey there,
      You are totally not alone with this. I think that it’s something that everyone must continually confront within themselves.
      Thanks so much for sharing my stuff, I’m really glad you liked it.
      And begin. Whatever you are putting off – start today. Do it. Trust me, it will be worth it.
      – J


  4. Reblogged this and commented:
    I am always telling myself: when you can – work. This means, use any opportunity to work, whatever work is at that time: things you need to do for your job, for your home, for your family, for your relationships, for yourself. Sometimes, it is very, very difficult to work. There are times in life when movement and progression are extremely limited. That’s why it’s so important not to waste any opportunities. Circumstances will rarely be optimal, but they are often enabling – to an extent. So work, whenever you can. Be active. Continue striving to achieve the things that matter to you. Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.


  5. I loved this piece that you’ve crafted around one of my favorite Teddy quotes. I’m slowly coming out of a bit of a torpor, learning the new ways I need to be in order to accomplish my goals. This is a central philosophy, for me. Thank you so much for sharing!


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