The best is the enemy of good.
That’s what Voltaire once wrote.
This can also be viewed, with the addition of a slightly different perspective, as the difference between motion and action. They sound very similar, but the two words are miles apart.
Motion is what we refer to when we plan things. It is good and it can also be effective, but the downside of motion is the lack of results. Being in motion is being in an ever results delaying moment.
Action, on the other hand, is the type of behaviour that produces outcome. If I lay down five ideas for an article, that’s motion. If I actually start writing one, that’s action.
Sometimes, motion is useful. Not in an outcome producing sense, but it’s needed nonetheless. Having a plan for getting into shape or a solid sales strategy for your business are of paramount importance. But failure to execute is such a common mistake, that it makes me often think about the naivety of those responsible for executing, despite the common knowledge of the difference between the two concepts.
If being in motion does not lead to results, one is but forgiven for asking: why do we do it?
And more often than not, we comply in motion because it allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure. Humans are great at avoiding criticism, indulging in comfort and choosing immediate rewards over long-term sacrifices.
You don’t want to be merely planning. You want to be practicing. You want to start with doing via repetition, not perfection.
Repetition is a powerful word. It hides an even more powerful one, consistency. Consistency in taking action the same way every time has been biologically proven to improve cell-to-cell signalling in your brain and to tighten the neural connections (this has been first described by neuropsychologist Donald Hebb in 1949, and the phenomenon is now commonly known as Hebb’s Law).
Building a habit (including taking action over something) requires consistency. It has more to do with frequency than the time you put in.
Back in the days when I was professionally fighting, I was experiencing a myriad of feelings before each fight. I often felt scared, tensed, anxious and at times, downright unprepared for what was about to come. I always studied my opponents, so one thing that I was constantly doing before a match, was to strategise about the fight itself. What are his weak points? How can I employ my strengths over him? What will I do if I’m point lead?
There was no end to the thought stream in my head. And although this process had its merits in the outcome of the fight, I only later realised that it was something else that got my mind and body truly “in the game”.
Before each match, I had a simple ritual. For two minutes straight, I used to sit down, eyes closed, and only think about my previous fights. Visualise them. Observe myself, with no intention to decide what I did good or bad in each moment (hence, no thinking about strategy and mistakes), but only the desire to feel them. To remember the force of a successfully landed punch or the pain of my crunching body as I was taking a hit.
This was what truly got me “in the game”. In the right mindset. It was this simple habit that did more for the outcome of the fight than the process of endlessly strategising beforehand. It was the action of spending two minutes in my own head as opposed to the motion of constant thinking.
Being in motion is valuable up to a certain threshold. But taking action is of utmost importance for the outcome.
The most effective way of learning and getting results is not planning, but practice.