Action, not contemplation
We all need to do more and think less.
There’s a meme—have you heard of those? — that continues to make the rounds across Barstool Sports and its Instagram-based fraternity brethren which focuses on a wildly simple concept: “Shooters shoot.”
The representative example appears nearby. The idea here, of course, is absurdly straightforward, and one that sales people actually understand quite well. This methodology applies to far more than just sales, however: job applications, cold emails in which I ask semi-famous people to come on my podcast, and — yes — even Tinder dates.
Let’s say you have your list of potential prospects (apologies in advance to Janice, Ellie, Beth, Claire, Nikki, Morgan, and Kaylee). That list of seven matches probably came from, conservatively, seventy right-swipes, plus who knows how many left-swipes. Statistically speaking, our friend here won’t be getting lucky this weekend: at an average conversion rate of 2.35%, exactly 0.1645 girls who have funneled through will be interested.
In other words: it’s a volume play. Shooters shoot. And the more you shoot, by nothing but the magic of mathematics, the better the chances of you sticking to the great Baldwin maxim: “Always Be Closing.”
The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote in his Nichomachean Ethics that “virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions.” Said more broadly, but, I think, still in the spirit of the original (and, by the way, often misattributed to Aristotle himself):
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
I want to now examine this briefly through the lens of creative, rather than Tinder-based, pursuits.
The need to put yourself out there creatively — to be vulnerable as a result of your creative endeavor, to suffer the slings and arrows of criticism, and, perhaps worse, apathy — is an absolute prerequisite to any kind of success. I have come to believe this not only is true, but that it must be true. There is no growth and no victory without struggle.
Simply stated, we are told that we must do. And, per Aristotle (sort of), we are told that not only must we do, we must do well if we are to build an excellence in our actions around that thing we are doing. “Practice makes perfect.” Sound familiar? (Why is it, by the way, that the old advice always continues to seem to be the correct advice? But more on that another time I suppose.)
So all of this goes back to to the impetus for action and the need to do, make, or create that is the most meaningful step. I think there is, to some degree, a special kind of courage required in putting the first word on the page, the first note on the score, or the first sound in the podcast microphone. And — a quick but important point of clarification here — then taking that work into the public sphere. You must, fundamentally, take something that you have done (choose your action word) and then share it with people. Period.
I say this not to self-congratulate my own “bravery” (because of starting my podcast) but to simply acknowledge a reality that I have learned personally. How many millions of people are out there saying “I’m a writer” or “I’m a podcaster” — or at least they say they desperately want to be those things — but have not written or uttered a single word for public consumption, good or bad. It is absurd on its face, actually, when you think about it.
The fear is very real. The fear of failure, the fear of sucking, the fear of embarrassment, the fear of judgment. And not only judgment from nobodies, but from, perhaps, important and influential people in your life who happen to believe your time is being wasted on this and should be spent instead on that — you know, the other, far more meaningful and important, thing.
Reject that out of hand. Don’t think twice. Don’t look back. We are paralyzed, creatively, by getting in our own heads. By worrying about perfection. And by fear of judgment and failure. (That said, yes, you will probably, at times, suck. And you’ll probably suck a lot at the beginning.)
But if you know you have the drive, and the stomach, but just haven’t taken that first step because of the fear of the gaping maw of the empty page or the worry of “I don’t know exactly what I’m doing,” then do yourself, and me, and everyone else a huge favor: Stop. In the immortal words of Nike, “just do it.”
After all — writers write. Podcasters podcast. Creators create.
And shooters shoot.