Killing Goldfish

This blog originally appeared on Medium:
Killing Goldfish

I’m a talker. Always have been, and, I suspect, I always will be.

If you know Game of Thrones, I suspect The Hound would hate me.

Being a talker comes with a great sense of productivity and I think this sense is one of the reasons I’m drawn to it.

This sense arises from the fact that speaking makes it easy to manifest thoughts in the real world.

A simple sentence and *poof*, the cerebral is made actual. The idea or thought is now in an external and highly shareable format.

In many respects: something from nothing.

It’s even a piece of cake to move from one discussion point to the next quite swiftly. Take and idea, speak about it, bring it to life, and then move on — your work is done.

It’s easy to see how this can feel like an amazing use of time and energy.
But what, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve only just realised, is how false this sense of productivity is. It’s not speaking that actually brings these thoughts to life. It’s not speaking that manifests these thoughts in the real world — it’s action.

I guess there’s a reason they say “talk is cheap”.

Talking about an idea might present it to the “real world”, but only through action will it achieve any of its potential. Only through action will it start to interact with the system of the world. Only through action will the idea make an impact.

For 36 years I’ve walked around thinking that I’ve been giving birth to ideas and setting them free into the world. What I’ve actually been doing is taking goldfish out of a small, private tank, putting them on a table to show people how marvellous they are, and letting them drown in the air.

Because that’s what happens to ideas without action: they die.

Talking might get the goldfish out of your personal tank so you can show another person or two, but it’s only action which gets it into a larger, more public aquarium, where it can grow and flourish.

It’s not difficult to see why my particular pattern of behaviour was easy to establish — action requires more effort than talking. It requires much more energy to build a public aquarium than it does to just scoop a fish out of water and leave it to flap about on the table.

Action requires energy, focus, resource and intent — but in the end it’s worth it.

So this article is the first aquarium. It’s not particularly well crafted, or beautiful, but hopefully it holds water. Hopefully it holds fish.

Hopefully it stands as a tiny, idea-filled monument to action, and my desire to not spend the next thirty-six years, killing goldfish.