“The prayer of the chicken hawk does not get him the chicken” (Swahili Proverb).
IN A BOOK ABOUT ENTHUSIASTIC IDEAS, WE NEED TO EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF “EXECUTION.” To execute an idea or a plan is to carry it out, and it should be obvious that if our ideas are not executed, they will be fruitless. It is not enough to think good thoughts; we have to do something about them. “Life happens at the level of events, not words,” as Alfred Adler said. And as Curtis Grant colorfully put it, “Having the world’s best idea will do you no good unless you act on it. People who want milk shouldn’t sit on a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that a cow will back up to them.”
In the business world, there is a keen recognition of the importance of execution. Organizations engage in strategic planning, but then the plans have to be implemented. And, in fact, the word “executive” simply means one who helps to carry out the organization’s mission. The “chief executive officer” is the person who has been given the highest authority to carry out the plans of the owner or directors.
In our personal lives, I would suggest that execution is the key to having a positive self-image. Self-esteem is often overrated in our culture, but it is certainly important, and the way to get it is to get out of our easy chair and start executing our good ideas. “The only way to get positive feelings about yourself is to take positive action. Man does not live as he thinks, he thinks as he lives” (Vaughan Quinn).
Ultimately, execution is the main measure of our character; it is what reveals our true convictions. Ashley Montagu bluntly summed it up in these words: “The only measure of what you believe is what you do. If you want to know what people believe, don’t read what they write, don’t ask them what they believe, just observe what they do.”
Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” He wasn’t exaggerating. Life ruthlessly rolls over those who do nothing but think and plan and prepare. So while our dreams are vitally important — as I’ve written elsewhere — it’s even more important that we implement our aspirations. If they are not soon acted upon, our best impulses will vanish.
“Inspirations never go in for long engagements; they demand immediate marriage to action” (Brendan Francis).