"Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time."
--Lou Brock, Hall of Fame baseball player
Action is the killer app that will bring you success in business and in life.
A few days ago, Ian Ybarra posted a tribute to Jessica Pierce, a bright young high school student and lifeguard who drowned while trying to save her classmates from a treacherous current during a school trip to Costa Rica.
After the tragedy, Ian wrote about what made Jessica special:
"Her name was Jessica Pierce. And she had something special. Call it initiative, call it courage, call it whatever you want, but she was going to use it to make great things happen. She wasn't about to live by default like most people I run across."
Jessica met Ian when he spoke to her English class. Of all the students, she was the only one who reached out to Ian and followed up with him. She was the only one who applied to the leadership camp he recommended. She was the only one who asked him for advice about getting into college, and when he recommended that she visit the schools before the application cycle began, she arranged her first visit within two weeks.
The point is that she was willing to act. Greatness comes to those who act, not those who wait.
There are always many reasons why we wait or hesitate. Fear of failure. Fear of looking silly. Fear of being different. Fear of rejection. And perhaps most insidious of all, fear of making the wrong choice.
You can go through life without ever really taking a step off the beaten path. You can go to a good college, get good grades, get a good job, and have a good career without ever risking failure, rejection, being different, or make a "wrong" choice.
But that will never lead you to greatness.
Whatever your age, you can act.
If you're a student, try to find your passion (and ignore what others think). Talk, really talk with your teachers and professors, and let them know how they can help you.
If you're in the workplace, don't do something you know is silly or wrong just because it's how it's always been done. Don't settle for good enough--push to make things better until you are actually satisfied.
Find things you love and do them. Find people you care about and be with them.
None of us knows how much time we'll be given. What is certain is that when a day ends, you'll never get a chance to go back. Don't kill time, savor it.
The one thing you can always control is how you spend your time. Invest wisely. Act.