A Warrior Lives by Acting

Posted on August 12, 2014 by Robert Ringer


There are two basic kinds of actions. One is proaction, which puts you on the offensive and, all other things being equal, gives you a great deal of control over events. The other is reaction, which puts you on the defensive and relegates you to an inherent position of weakness.

An interesting way of looking at inaction is that it’s really just a negative form of action — a sort of black hole of action that sucks energy away from you much the same as the black holes of the universe pull matter into the deep recesses of their cosmic bowels. This is why inaction often yields consequences by default. If you wait for something, or someone, to act on you, you likely will be unable to control the consequences.

Homeostasis, a trait that all human beings possess to one extent or another, is (in psychological terms) the tendency to live with existing conditions and avoid change. Which is ironic, because resistance to change defies both the laws of nature and the laws of the universe.

The earth, the universe, and life itself are in a perpetual state of change, and so, too, is secular life. Weather changes, laws change, the economy changes, the reins of power change, technology changes, and, perhaps most significant of all, your age changes every second of your life. In addition, with the generation and dying of cells in our bodies, each of us is in a constant state of change physiologically, from birth to death.

Homeostasis is the ultimate defense against taking action, which is why most people stubbornly resist change, particularly major change. Outwardly, of course, we fabricate excuses that attempt to justify why we aren’t able to take action just yet, the most common one being that “the time is not quite right.”

Through the years, my own experience has convinced me that the time is never “right.” There’s always something that’s in the way of taking action. If you’re looking for excuses not to take action, you don’t have to go very far, because life is fraught with so-called problems — and they follow us wherever we go.

The truth is that, with few exceptions, the best day to take action is today. You can make a sales call today. You can start working on that important project today. You can start preparing to move to the city of your choice today. You can begin to pick up the pieces and start a new life today.

The issue isn’t about today being the first day of the rest of your life; the real issue is that today could be the last day of the rest of your life. And, as Mark Twain put it, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, put an exclamation point on Twain’s thought when he said (with regard to taking the plunge to start Amazon), “I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that. But I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.”

When people cling to the excuse that the time isn’t quite right to move forward with a plan or change of one kind or another — particularly starting a business — it’s often because they get caught up in the “how” of the situation. No one is omniscient. No one can foresee every problem and know, in advance, how to solve it.

The reality is that all start-ups are dysfunctional. What makes a person an entrepreneur is that he has the determination, perseverance, and resourcefulness to overcome the dysfunction of a new enterprise. Paul McCartney put it well when asked in an interview about how the Beatles got started. McCartney answered, “Nobody knows how to do it. You just start a band.”

I should also point out that people often fail to take action because they tend to confuse the word hard with impossible. It’s not impossible to change occupations right now; just hard. It’s not impossible to move to another city right now; just hard. It’s not impossible to start a new business right now; just hard.

Hard is the very thing that gives value to an objective. Everything worth accomplishing is hard. If you’re waiting for everything to be just right before taking action, you’re in possession of a foolproof excuse for failure.

Never allow change to make you fearful. Instead, embrace it as one of the most exciting aspects of life. Think of action as an opportunity to make mistakes, mistakes that give you a front-row seat in the Theater of Learning.

Carlos Castaneda explained it perfectly succinctly when he said, “A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.” Thinking is a good thing to do — but not nearly as good as action.

The idea is to be bold and take more swings at pitches that aren’t perfect, which will result in your getting your share of singles and doubles. Which is important, because singles and doubles make it possible for you to still be at bat when that perfect pitch finally arrives. Then, if you’re prepared, you’ll be in a position to hit one out of the park. The more action you take, the more results you get. It’s that simple.

Not surprisingly, Albert Einstein said it best: “Nothing happens until something moves.”

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

15 responses to “A Warrior Lives by Acting”

  1. Thomas says:

    Great Article!!!

  2. moosie says:

    The Best Defense is good offense ,"A warrior blends with Life" a modern Tao…continued good actions are all that work"When insightful people hear of the way they take it up immediately ,seeking unity. when mediocre people hear of the Way they are unimpressed"….

  3. Kerry says:

    Robert, I read all your essays but this one resonates with me more at the moment than anything I've read (from you or others) in quite some time. I've spent too much time the last few months being overwhelmed and fearful of the possibility of change. You've helped me to move forward with a particular situation in my life right now, and I thoroughly appreciate your words of wisdom.

  4. Paul Anthony says:

    "You cannot plow a field by turning it over in your mind".

  5. Murray Suid says:

    Robert, there's a lot of truth to your essay. When I look back on certain moments in my life, I recognize a failure to act. However, we all know of examples when action was precipitous and catastrophic, for example, the launch of the Vietnam war. My question then: Are there any strategies a person can use to assess the possible negative results of taking an action? I'm not asking for guarantees. The future is murky. But still, is there anything we can do–at the moment of action–to increase the odds against making a serious mistake–whether it's a war, the start of new business, a marriage, or….

    • Thinking objectively before taking action Murray, is the best guarantee.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      There are no guarantees in life. Each of us must rely on our own knowledge and wisdom when it comes to making decisions – including the decision to act or not to act. When in doubt, I lean heavily in the direction of taking action.

    • Jean says:

      Simione has it right – the easiest way to start the flow of ideas going is to ask yourself, "What is the VERY WORST that can happen if I do X?" Write down your results. You may find that most, if not all, are fears rather than probabilities. Then develop some strategies to counter those events that ARE probable. You've gone a long way to mitigate risk and take more control over your situation.

  6. Jim Perlberg says:

    Well said. As a 22 Navy Veteran, I can state that the only way I ever achieved anything in life, either in the service or in private endeavors, was to get off my butt and get moving. Warriors live by a creed of action. We always think, but we also always act.

  7. Richard Lee Van says:

    Excellent! I worked in a whole exciting life (and it ain't over til it's over) by MAKING CHANGES as I went along, including many Major Changes. That drew a lot of criticism from those who play it safe. But I have memories and personal growth. What do they have? "Security" of which there ain't none. Well, maybe some kinds. Yes, it is nice to have more than enough money, but, NOT if the cost is too great. I always hated that word "retirement". And the question, "Are you retired?" Yes, I got re-tired many times and I'm still rollin'… but more slowly than before. Thanks again, Mr. Ringer! You build nice fires and give excellent INsights!

  8. Joan says:

    Wonderful–thanks for the shot in the arm!

  9. Marie says:

    Great reminder article Thanks Robert !

  10. Philosophizer says:

    Well said Robert. This is one of the main problems of being human – should I take action on this idea? We tend to over think sometimes, which can lead to immobilization if we think maybe now is not the right time; which is human nature to put it off until later – leading to procrastination.

    Maybe we shouldn't think of some action as a mistake, but just view it as a result, which one can learn from. And should we take an action? Of course not every idea is a good idea just because we have it. One needs to digest it for a bit, and then think of how you would feel with your result, either for the positive or negative, and then go with your gut, it is always right. I can say for sure, that at some point there comes a point in every life when you know what you should have done, and now it is too late to do it.

    One needs to find his passion, and make that his life's work, as this is what would make you the happiest. And never let anyone tell you it can't be done, because I have done it against all odds, when EVERYONE told me I couldn't do it for a myriad of reasons. I ignored every one of those remarks, and with a will that would never allow me to quit, accomplished my goal and more.

    When one finds his passion and retains a positive perspective which aligns with the positive Universal qualities, the whole universe will align behind you to help you accomplish your goals. It's the law of attraction. People will show up to help you, resources show up when you least expect it. You will attract what you believe. Believe you can do it, and you can. Believe you can't and you can't.

    Nothing new have I said here, Robert said it above, and so has every successful person.

  11. Very nice blog post . I surely love your site. Keep it up!