Despite what your parents may have told you once upon a time to make you feel better, it is not the thought (alone) that counts- or your feelings, or “intentions” or anything else, but action itself. The only thing that really counts, the thing that really makes an impact in the world, is action. Your results are a direct function of your actions, and the state of what you have and don’t have is a result of what you’ve done and not done. It is simple and inescapable logic. Action matters.
In fact, it is the only thing that matters. The refrain of “it doesn’t matter anyway”, whether pertaining to a specific action or to life in general, is just not true- and yet seems to be a chronic and costly mistake in judgment. If you hear yourself say it, whether aloud or to yourself, know that you’re fooling yourself. And that pretense has far-reaching consequences.
Certainly, it is easy to operate in life as if “what I do doesn’t matter”. On a large planet, amongst seven billion people, in an even larger and unfathomable universe, comprised of massive forces that are beyond our comprehension, let alone our control, “what I do doesn’t matter” is an understandable conclusion to arrive at. It’s also a comfortable and convenient conclusion, as it absolves us of personal responsibility; it takes us off the hook for taking actions consistent with our professed values and commitments, and affords us a free pass on being accountable for all that clearly doesn’t work in our businesses, our lives and life itself.
It’s just not accurate.
Everything you do has an impact. Who you are- that you are- actually matters. In an interconnected world (the only kind we have), our actions and the actions of others are inextricably linked- we are always and forever in a dance of mutual influence with those with whom we directly and indirectly participate. It is the unavoidable reality of being social creatures, only magnified by an ever-increasingly complex and interwoven societal structure. We matter to each other.
For example: You couldn’t read this if I didn’t write it. And my doing that was made possible by countless prior actions and influences by myself (scheduling the time, learning material, practicing principles successfully with clients, waking up in the morning, looking both ways before crossing the street, etc.) and others (people who have taught/ trained me, my clients, my associates, people who built the computer I typed this on so that it works, those at the electric company, Ben Franklin for discovering electricity, those that read prior newsletters at a sufficient rate to justify future editions, etc.).
Beyond that, there’s this simple truth: no actions, no results. As the saying goes, if you don’t take the shot, I can guarantee that you won’t make it. If you don’t make that call, I can promise you that you won’t reach the person. If you don’t prepare for your sales presentation, you will not be as effective as you could be.
And our actions define us. Who we are, how we are perceived by others and- most importantly- by ourselves, starts with what we do and don’t do. How long is it before one morning of “it doesn’t matter if I exercise today” turns into seeing yourself as lazy? The lazier you see yourself as being, the lazier you’ll be and the less you’ll exercise, and the less frequently you exercise the tougher it becomes and the more weight you put on, and the more out of shape you are the tougher the exercise is, and the less you want to and therefore the less you do and the lazier you see yourself as, and the lazier and out of shape you get the more other areas of life start to become impacted, and on and on it goes. Patterns of action and interpretation quickly emerge and take hold.
So, yes, what you do matters. It matters in your results. It matters in your experience. It matters for others, and it matters for you. Some results you can see immediately and some later on. And some effects exist in the proverbial ripple effect, the tremendous reach of which you will never see or understand or appreciate.
In any case, there will be results. There will be an impact. The only question is, what kind of an impact will you have?
The choice is yours.