If in doubt: Do


A post I read on The School of Life blog has really stuck with me the past day. Perhaps because it invokes Benjamin Franklin, whose framework for each day I blogged about last year (an idea I’ve actually put into practice and that has been part of the inspiration a really interesting client project which will be beginning in the next month or so).

The post was by Mark Stevenson, and addresses the concept of being a “pragmatic optimist”:

Pragmatic optimists take a different view, which is quite simply this: you are what you do. That miserable, grumpy, cynical, obstructive or unreasonable person you appear to be is who you actually are as far as the rest of world is concerned. Pragmatic optimists are not interested in what you might do if your circumstances or internal dialogue were different. They hold the opinion that you do what you can in the moment you’re in…..

For this reason you will notice that pragmatic optimists, the people who get good stuff done are busy. Very busy. In fact you’ll hear others often remark, “I don’t know how they do so much”. The reason is they fill the time most of us use to procrastinate with hours spent getting on with stuff

I’d not heard the phrase “pragmatic optimist” before, but  it really appeals. It reminds me not to waste time either procrastinating – usually from fear or indecision – but to get on and do things.

There’s a parallel with what I’ve learned about myself through running – about a kind of worry less, do more imperative that I’ve developed.

It is hard to run. To get yourself out the door is hard. To run the first mile in cold, in rain, in the dark is hard. To keep going after mile four and take the road that heads away from home instead of closer to it – that’s hard. 

The trick is to have a kind of indecision-busting heuristic. An automated response that kicks in whenever you notice that you are undecided, dithering about whether to run or not. That response is: “If in doubt – run”.

Oh no. We’re there aren’t we? The place where the mind scrabbles round for a stirring phrase and alights on the Nike slogan.

It feels like a cliché because it’s been said so often, but it’s truth is so powerful when applied.

If in doubt: Do.

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