I was on the phone for an hour and a half. I was in no hurry. I was chatting with – or rather, listening to – a fascinating man in Adelaide.
Philip spoke about a lot of things, mostly cutting-edge technology. Things like brain-computer interfaces and touch-sensitive bionic fingers.
But it was one story he told that really caught my attention. He was at a party in New York. There were a lot of people there who’d achieve remarkable things in their lives. He was talking to one such woman. He was speaking enthusiastically about some of his ideas.
She patiently listened. When he’d told her about several, she asked, “Why are you telling me about these ideas? They’re great ideas. Are you telling me because you need confirmation, endorsement? Just have faith in your ideas and in yourself and make them happen.”
It was a metamorphic moment in his life. He realised that she was right. He was seeking validation.
As he told me this story, I realised with a shock that I am guilty of doing the same thing. I tell people about my ideas. Because I’m excited by them. Proud of them. But mostly, if I’m honest, because I want their endorsement.
This got me thinking about the relationship between Can Do and Have Done. Which is the parent and which the child?
Do you need a Can Do attitude to Have Done? Or is your Can Do attitude created after you Have Done? Which is the chicken? Which the egg?
Sometimes, even those who Have Done still have doubts about whether they Can Do.
Why do some of us undervalue our own achievements? We Have Done. It ought to reinforce our belief that we Can Do. It doesn’t.
Long after Philip told me that New York story, I continued to wonder why we have a tendency to tell people about our ideas. And I think I know why. At least in my case.
I think I tell people about my ideas because I fear that this might be the only way anyone will know about them. So, deep down I doubt that they’ll see the light of day.
Nobody I’ve told my ideas to has challenged me the way Philip was challenged at that party. Nobody has asked me why I’m telling them. They have told me they’re great ideas.
And, until that long phone call, I hadn’t wondered why so many of my ideas are still ideas.
I think I now know. When it comes to ideas, I have an unshakeable Can Do attitude. I have spent decades being paid to come up with ideas.
However, when it comes to implementing these ideas, I doubt that I can do what needs to be done.
Well, as a result of hearing that story, I am on a mission to do what I believe I can do. I am on a mission to make each idea a reality.
This is my commitment to myself. Join me in making a commitment to yourself?
Do you have ideas that you haven’t developed? I don’t want you to tell me about them. I want you to do them. Use whatever means are at your disposal, with whatever team you need to succeed and starting right now.
Action alone turns Can Do into Have Done. Begin.
(Thank you, Philip, for sharing that story. It has had as big an impact on me this week as that woman’s response had on you all those years ago.)
Photo by Danielle Macinnes via Unsplash