Act yourself into a new way of thinking

‘Start before you are ready’ is an invitation to action. It reminds me that we can act ourselves into a new way of thinking, just as well as we can think ourselves into a new way of acting. This maxim encourages me to pay attention to what is happening as events unfold, to be present and attentive to what actually happens, rather than what I imagine might happen. It also makes me leave space for other people to make contributions I wouldn’t have thought of.

Starting before you are ready means accepting that you won’t ever have all the information. I once met Gene Krantz, the flight controller on the fateful Apollo XIII mission and he said “sometimes you have to act before you get all the data in, or you will never get all the data in.” Acting on hunch or feel, as Krantz had to do, isn’t acting on the basis of no data, it is acting on the basis of a different kind of data.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare, but I find it useful to be reminded that the kind of preparation we most commonly do – abstract, rational (often numerical) analysis – isn’t the only, or even the best kind.

Breathing might be just as useful as counting….