When we look to make big changes we often make the mistake of thinking it takes big planning. Most of the changes we want to make in our lives don’t require more brains, but better behaviours. Today’s behaviour, a predisposition to action.
Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire, the fictionalized account of the Spartan King Leonidas and the Greek defence of Thermopylae in 480 BC is required reading for all new Marine officers. The following passage made an impression and I remember it as:
Arriving after a three day march the allied Greek troops sat in the boiling sun as their Captains argued about the architecture of the wall that needed to be rebuilt, to anchor their defence. Back and forth the debate dragged on over the best location, height and width. Soon a grizzled veteran, his forearms heavy with scars and grey in his beard, marched over to the stones from the ancient wall, stooped down and picked one up, marched twenty paces into the narrows and placed the first rock. He turned in his straw sun hat and marched with purpose back to the pile and put down the second stone next to the first. As he marched to get the next, a veteran sergeant of the Spartan contingent rises and shouts.
“Are you going to help build this wall or are you going to sit there on your dog blossoms all day and let the king do it?”
Leonidas demonstrated that the important part of building the wall, was building. Make action your default, make action your habit. From your eating, to your exercise, to your personal relationships, stop planning and start acting now, one right action at a time. You know what needs to be done so, start, step by step, stone by stone until the behaviour becomes the habit of action. Execute the plan you have right now and don’t stop until you build something.