One must steer, not talk.

One must steer, not talk. – Seneca

Not only was he talking & driving, he's now blinded by the flash!

What does that mean?
While I doubt Seneca had cellphones and driving in mind when he put this together, it does seem to apply fairly well, doesn’t it? However, given the century, my guess is that he was probably talking about a boat and the navigation thereof.

So, while the humans are busy talking among themselves, what is a boat doing, out at sea? It is drifting without direction, that’s what it’s doing. The humans are supposed to be giving it directions (steering), and if they are talking (perhaps arguing) instead, then things are not going to end well. While there may be a time for talking, when you are out at sea, your job is to do something, to steer the boat.

Why is ‘doing’ important?
We have talked about of another one of Seneca’s nautical references before, and this seems to be headed in the same direction (if you’ll pardon the pun). Here he implores us to not waste too much time talking, but instead spend our time in the steering of the boat.

The act of steering presupposes that there is a direction and a destination for the trip, doesn’t it? Even if it’s escaping from a rival fleet, or going around a storm, you still have a direction and a destination, right? Talking won’t get things done by itself. Eventually you have to shut up and just do it.

Just do it, that’s got a certain ring to it. As an aside, do you know that Nike was the Greek goddess of Victory? So many people (myself included) suffer from analysis paralysis, where we try to think the problem done. Others have difficulty making a decision or committing to the action, or fail to follow through. In each case, there is no steering, no doing, so nothing gets done. That’s not good.

Where can I apply this in my life?
With the possible exception of ducking, some thought and discussion is typically done before almost any actual doing occurs. The trick is to get a proper balance between only turning it over in your mind (a reference to another saying I may get to someday) and a simple reaction, without thought.

Everyone will draw the line between too much thought and not enough thought in a different place. Most people will make excuses for why things aren’t done yet. For me and my project car, it’s still too hot out. In this past winter, it was too cold out. Spring was just too busy. Always an excuse.

To help counter this, I am keeping track of what I am and am not doing. It’s hard to improve something if you don’t know anything about it. I’ve noticed I’m spending a lot of time goofing off on the computer, and watching a lot more TV than is necessary. Now I just have to redirect the time and effort and start ‘steering’.

What are your go-to excuses? When push comes to shove and you don’t want to do it, what are your most common excuses? For many people I know (myself included), we are just too busy. Grab some paper and list the top ten things which you want to do or should be doing. Then write down the excuse(s) you have used recently.

Is there a pattern to your excuses? This gives you a clue where it would be most profitable to put your energy. For me, my usual excuse is time (or lack thereof). This becomes a Time Management problem. I’ve been looking at what I do with my time, and I’m trying to cut back on the less useful things. This will, in theory, leave me with more time.

What is your top excuse? Take a moment and consider under which circumstances you use the excuse. With that in mind, take a moment and brainstorm some ideas as to why you use it. Mostly we’re looking for the split between an excuse and a reason.

If it turns out that you have an excuse, then it’s just a matter of self discipline to no longer use that excuse. If it turns out that you have a valid reason, then you need to come up with a plan to figure out how to overcome that reason.

In my case, I really didn’t have enough time. So I figured out what I was doing with my time and started trimming back on the less important tasks. Take a moment and brainstorm up some ideas as to how you can overcome your reason. Sort through the ideas and take the top two or three and come up with a plan to implement it. I chose to identify and eliminate wasted time.

Life is full of opportunities to talk and also to steer. Talk to much, and little gets done. Talk too little and you might not get the right thing done. It will take some practice, and a mix of lousy and great results, but eventually you’ll find your balance between talking and steering.

From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at :
Photo by Craig Murphy


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
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