#017 DO


In the SDNT sequence, D = DO

Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.    – Bruce Lee

We should do more, and talk less.   – Deng Xiaoping

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.    – Albert Einstein


In science, you DO an experiment not because you know what will happen but in order to SEE what will happen.

Outside science, there is often a reluctance to do an experiment in case it doesn’t work. But no idea is of any real value until it gets used. If an idea never gets used, why even know about it?

There’s a huge gap between knowing and doing. I have called this gap – The Impossible Barrier – and written at length about this in NewSell. The reason for this is because, so often, knowing something prevents doing it. We have something repeated to us and we say ‘Yes, I already know that!’ and we turn our attention away. Yet it is the repetition of things we already know that gets us closer to actually doing it. It has been said that too often the knowers are not the doers and the doers are not the knowers.

One of the reasons that the global climate change programs have been delayed and slowed down (at great cost to the next few generations) is because the focus has shifted from the doers to the talkers. The focus has moved away from the scientists, technologists and problem-solvers to the politicians, media and the chatterati.

We need to get into action. Once we move from thought into action we immediately create feedback. Our actions have consequences and it is these consequences that enable us to evaluate the effectiveness of our behaviour. Thinking is not an escape from action it is simply the basis for it. When in doubt, do something.



You may already have noticed that the recurring themes running through this book are ESCAPE and MOVEMENT. To the thinker, a creative approach to life means a questioning approach.

I was a kid that was always asking, ‘Why, why, why?’ I think I’m even worse now. It constantly challenges me to find out more, so I improve and continue to improve. – Ian Thorpe, Olympic Champion and Sports Thinker.

The skilled thinker, the thinker of action, is a skilled questioner. Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? Why? Why? The only silly question is the question you don’t ask.

But what is a question?

According to Rochelle Myers, who ran the famous Stamford University Graduate School of Management course, Creativity in Business, questions are the following:

A question is an opening to creation.

A question is an unsettled and unsettling issue.

A question is an invitation to creativity.

A question is a beginning of adventure.

A question is a seductive foreplay.

A question pokes and prods what has not yet been poked and prodded.

A question is a point of departure. A question wants a playmate.

If you can develop your questioning skills you will immediately begin to expand your options, you will have more alternatives.

You will also generate extra possibilities, you will have more choices. All these things will lead you into action, to DO things. Your new questioning skills will enable you to become less of a knower and more of a doer. You will annoy authorities and astound your friends. This alone, can be a good enough reason to ask more questions.

In the 1980s my friend and agent, Leslie Buckland, was President of Caribiner Inc in New York, the world’s largest producer of big business meetings. Leslie often used to say, ‘If something is worth doing it’s worth doing badly’. Why? Doesn’t this seem a contradiction for a man who was known internationally for setting the high standards of quality in big business meetings?

A Caribiner production team could go into a hotel ballroom anywhere in the world, turn it into a circus or a theatre in 24 hours, stage, for one performance only, the business equivalent of a Broadway show – original music, dancers, actors, fireworks – and then strike the set leaving it as they found it 24 hours later.

They staged multi-million dollar productions all over the world for companies like IBM, McDonald’s, and Mercedes-Benz where quality was the absolute key. Yet Les often said, ‘If something is worth doing it’s worth doing badly’.  Why?

This is the paradox of action, of decision- making, of getting things done. The mistakephobiacs are so afraid of doing something badly they get nothing done at all!

‘Our doubts’, said William Shakespeare, ‘are traitors and make us lose the good we might win by fearing to attempt’.

Very often there’s no ‘right way’ to do things. Les, and other people of action, like trauma surgeons or astronauts, know that one has to get started and do something, get the process moving otherwise you’ll just get overtaken by the unfolding of circumstances.

Even if you make a mistake or do it badly, get going. You can always change things, make adjustments and corrections. That’s what computers and robots do. You can make it work and make it work well, but first you have to get it up and running.

Bad can always be changed to good. Sitting back and waiting for perfection often means inertia and failure. For an experiment (that is, to try out and see what happens) try asking questions like these:

•  How does this company make a profit?

•  Why does this shop close at 6pm?

•  When you swim, how do you breathe?

•  Why was my request refused?

•  Can I have a money-back guarantee? Why not?

•. Can I work longer hours?

•  Why shouldn’t I be with someone I enjoy?

•  What’s so good about always being busy?

• What are my skills?

•. What is missing here? What else?

•  What is your authority? Why?

•  How are board members selected? Who determines the directors on the board?

•  How was this decision made? Why?

•  Why is this rule necessary? Can it be improved?

•  Am I needed here?

• How can this be more fun?


Your DFQ #017:

What do I DO now?

How can you get into action?

DO something and post your results.

384 thoughts on “#017 DO

  1. Bonjour tout le monde,

    Ce que je fais juste maintenant est de me remettre à ce cours après une période agitée pendant laquelle j’ai choisi de le laisser de côté. Donc, au boulot!

    Hello everybody. What I’m doing right now is to get back to this class after a hectic period of time when I chose to leave it alone. So, at work!

  2. Hiding in paperwork to avoid a couple of tricky calls to clients. Came up for air and realised the admin wasn’t generating income. Sucked it up, made the calls and worked through the issues – led to 4 new deals in progress.

  3. I’ll assign 30 min on my calendar every day to review all that I need to do to move forward. It’s too ad-hoc at the moment. I was also thinking of doing the same for the top 2-3 things I need to do every day. Putting them on my calendar would ensure that I pay attention to them and not the let one day go by without working on them.

  4. I need to set a meeting with the Undersecretary for Programs of the Philippine Department of Education to discuss a long study on the level of thinking skills among Filipino elementary students. The purpose is to show the level of thinking of Filipino children and what to do about it.

  5. Steps I took were not the best steps that I can do , but
    bad step taken is better than no step at all.
    I checked in to see how the action i took made me feel, and in somehow I’m unsatisfied, my BVS is needed to be well- gained again and some adjustments are also needed.It’s all part of my development, and understanding of what changes I have to do into my thinking.

    #no edges one can push up against, just to change my current view on things.

    #With each action step i took, , my vision got better. I discovered things again, my CVs is not something that cannot be chabged.

    #when I put one idea into action I can learn more( adjust and understand in different pattern) about that idea, it’s valuable.

  6. I wrote down the seven habits that I want to practice on daily bases on a piece of paper that I carry with me and remind myself what I am committed to doing each day to get me closer to my goals.

  7. I talked to myself and cleared my thinking. I then made a list of tasks to finish today to ensure my cognition is ready for A complex task, that I am keen to get started !

  8. Sent around notes from a client meeting to the sales director. Led to a follow-up proposal for setting up a design discussion with the client.

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