Through the years, I’ve heard some variation of this many times:
“Some people make things happen. Some people watch things happen. And then there are those who wonder, ‘What the hell just happened?’”
The quote is usually attributed to an author named Carroll Bryant, but that doesn’t matter for our purposes here. What matters is the statement, how very true it is and how we act after realizing the truth of it.
If I had to guess at the percentage of people who fall into each of those three groups — the makers, the watchers and the astonished — I’d bet that fewer than 10 percent are in the maker group. Probably something like 65 or 70 percent are watchers, and the rest (20-25 percent) are the astonished.
I’d also guess that your breakdown would be pretty similar. I bet we’re not more than 10 percent different in any category.
But if you asked people which category they belong in, I feel pretty certain that most of us would say we’re in the group that makes things happen. We are doers. We are the driving forces.
That means we’re either way off in our estimate of how many “make things happen” people are out there or a whole bunch of us are lying to ourselves about it where we fit in the mix.
I’m pretty confident that the reason for the discrepancy is the latter — people who think they’re making a difference when they’re really just watching things happen … or even wondering what the hell just happened.
Watching and wondering are easy traps to fall into, and just about everyone falls in once in a while, but it’s important that we each take charge of our lives in an active way — not in a passive way. If you’re still doing the same things the same way you did them last year or five years ago, you’ve either perfected your system or gotten lazy and fallen into the trap. And if you’ve perfected your system, what challenge have you moved onto and what other situation have you made better?
I think about stuff like this a lot. I like to think of myself as someone who makes things happen, but I’m not nearly as productive in that way as I’d like to be. Sometimes I fall into the trap of watching and wondering. I know I can do better.
Ultimately, it’s my choice … our choice. We can do, we can watch or we can wonder.
What are you going to make happen today and how will it make things better?