A month ago, I noticed something. It struck me, and made me write this article. This was before traveling to Cape Town three weeks ago, before giving a talk two weeks ago, and before publishing a blog last week (and this week). It’s about an important question:
To be someone or to do something?
Because I wrote blogs in the past, I considered myself someone who writes. But to be a writer, you need to keep writing. Publish work. Something I hadn’t done in over three months.
Because I traveled the world a few months ago, I considered myself someone who travels. But to be a world traveler, you need to keep traveling. Board airplanes. Something I hadn’t done in over three months.
Because I spoke at conferences in the past, I considered myself someone who gives talks. But to be a public speaker, you need to keep speaking. Engage with audiences. Something I hadn’t done in over two months.
In his new book ‘Ego is the Enemy’, Ryan Holiday explains a concept of John Boyd. An American fighter pilot and later military strategist who revolutionized aerial tactics and air-to-air combat for the United States Air Force.
Holiday describes a mentor – mentee conversation between Boyd and an apprentice of his:
One day you will come to a fork in the road, and you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go.
If you go one way, you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises, you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club, you will be promoted, and you will get good assignments.
If you go the other way, you can do something. Something for your country, and for your airfare, and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted, and you may not get good assignments. And you will certainly not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and yourself. And your work might make a difference.
To be somebody, or to do something.
In life, there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision.
To be or to do, which way will you go?”
So, think about this the next time you face a decision. To be or to do. That’s the question.
I’ve made up my mind. And you?