‘Just do it.’ (Nike)
Greenpeace hit the proverbial nail on the head when it coined the phrase, ‘The optimism of the action is better than the pessimism of the thought.’ It revealed deep psychological insight, especially when faced with near-insurmountable challenge. The action of a 99-year old war hero, Tom Moore, who raised over £28,000,000 this week to support the UK National Health Service, stands out as emblematic of a just-do-it spirit in the face of an invisible enemy. Covid 19 has left so many feeling anxious and powerless. Captain Tom’s action represents his, and our, fightback, resistance…hope.
And therein lies the crux of the matter. Hope. Jürgen Moltmann puts it starkly: ‘Hell is hopelessness.’ We need that feeling, that ability to look to the horizon with eyes filled with faith that, somehow, we will overcome. But how can we achieve that? First, by choosing. The act of choosing increases our sense of agency, of power. It’s about vision, decision, taking a stance. Then, by doing. The practical act of acting increases our sense of agency still further. It shifts us from passivity to proactivity, from helplessness to hopefulness. It involves gut-instinct, not over-thinking; making a difference…now.
Yet how does this square with, say, critical thinking, strategic planning and reflective practice? What if a course of action inspires in the moment and yet, in the bigger picture or longer-term, proves ineffective or, worse still, counter-productive? What if an action fails to address underlying ethical, cultural or systemic issues so that change is achieved, but without wider-deeper transformation? As leader, coach, OD or trainer, how to you evoke and harness the spontaneous energy of just-do-it action? How do you enable great thinking, without paralysis of analysis? How do you engender...hope?
(Captain Tom fundraising: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tomswalkforthenhs)
(Captain Tom/Bowie tribute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiECYd0KBUs)