Sometime after I started working on my doctorate, I got a book called How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation. I read it regularly, almost like a devotional book. It talked about the emotional side of doctoral work as much as the practical side. In retrospect, I’m not sure how much I read it after I actually started writing. At some point, I stopped reading about writing and started doing it.
A year ago, Several years ago, I was reading running books and articles. At one point, I had five books on running plans, eating plans, and strength-training plans on the floor of my office. I started my running streak in May 2015. I stopped reading as much about running. I spent that 20 minutes or more every day out running.
I’ve got books about quests (The Happiness of Pursuit) and calling (The Art of Work) and quick entrepreneurship (The $100 Startup) that read like devotionals. They have short stories of people who succeeded or failed or both. Just reading them makes you feel inspired. But just reading them leaves you in a chair.
The people who first heard Jesus speaking felt inspired that way, too. People who could not get a break in the system loved the way he challenged the religious leaders. They were happy when he made the self-righteous uncomfortable.
But he wasn’t writing devotionals. He wasn’t giving little talks that people would hear or read and then feel better.
At the end of one popular seminar, he always said, “If all you do is listen to what I say, and you never get around to doing it, you are like the fool who builds a big house on the sand down by the Jordan in the middle of the dry season.”
They shook their heads. “Who would ever do that?” they thought.
I’ve been working on the balance between listening and doing for decades. I talked about it here for the first time in 2015. The running streak I mentioned ended after 420 days.