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Action

  • In Grandma conviction and resolve were powerful, and advanced hand in hand. There is a saying, 'To think is to act'; which describes her well. Such natures are often heroic; they move mountains. But it must be hinted that while such natures are admirable they are subject to one grave defect: too often, action which should be the result of thought, becomes the substitute for it. Presently, 'to act is to think' seems an excellent precept, and by and by merely to act seems all that is necessary. Then the wrong mountains may get moved.

  • ... if a thing is to be done, there is no time like the hour that has not struck.

  • Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds ...

  • Our deeds are like children that are born to us; they live and act apart from our own will.

  • It will never rain roses: when we want / To have more roses we must plant more trees.

  • Our deeds still travel with us from afar, / And what we have been makes us what we are.

  • It is one thing to see your road, another to cut it.

  • ... when action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep.

  • Crowd action is the outcome of agreement based on concurrence of emotion rather than of thought ...

  • It's so hard when I have to, and so easy when I want to.

  • Your ships come in only after you have sent them out.

  • All our acts have sacramental possibilities ...

  • There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.

  • Our actions are like ships which we may watch set out to sea, and not know when or with what cargo they will return to port.

  • One thing I am convinced of is that the more you do, the more you can do.

  • But hers was the pleasant fatigue that comes of work well done. When at night in bed she went over the events of the day, it was with a modest yet certain satisfaction at this misunderstanding disentangled, that problem solved, some other help given in time of need. Her good deeds smoothed her pillow.

  • I know that after all is said and done, more is said than done.

  • Recognition of function always precedes recognition of being.

  • Do what you want to do, when you want to do it ... and not a moment sooner.

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Bill Adler, ed., The Uncommon Wisdom of Oprah Winfrey ()
  • ... what one has to do usually can be done ...

  • ... practically nothing we do ever stands by itself. If it is good, it will serve some good purpose in the future. If it is evil, it may haunt us and handicap our efforts in unimagined ways.

  • Unused ability, like unused muscles, will atrophy.

  • Every activity performed in public can attain an excellence never matched in privacy; for excellence, by definition, the presence of others is always required.

  • Whatever you want to do, just do it. Don't worry about making a fool of yourself. Making a fool of yourself is absolutely essential.

  • Tell a thousand people to draft a letter, let them debate every phrase, and see how long it takes and what you get.

  • Words are leaves, the substance consists of deeds, which are the true fruits of a good tree.

    • Elizabeth I,
    • letter to Henry IV, King of France (1601), in G.B. Harrison, The Letters of Queen Elizabeth I ()
  • Actions lie louder than words.

  • The way to do some things is to do them.

  • There is no magic tomorrow; we can think things through rationally today.

  • ... a vast deal may be done by those who dare to act.

  • With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see.

  • There is only one proof of ability — action.

  • The essence of living is in doing, and in doing, I have made my world and it's a much better world than I ever saw outside.

  • There is no moment like the present. ... The man who will not execute his resolutions when they are fresh upon him, can have no hope from them afterward. They will be dissipated, lost in the hurry and scurry of the world, or sunk in the slough of indolence.

  • Indecision is fatal. It is better to make a wrong decision than build up a habit of indecision. If you are wallowing in indecision, you certainly can't act — and action is the basis of success.

  • We should do only those righteous actions which we cannot stop ourselves from doing ...

  • Go! Go! Go! It makes no difference where, just so you go! go! go! Remember, at the first opportunity, go!

    • Jeannette Rankin,
    • in Kevin S. Giles, Flight of the Dove: The Story of Jeannette Rankin ()
  • ... every act of one's life is the unavoidable result of every act that has preceded it.

  • These are times of action. Men think and then act; sometimes, indeed, they simply act.

  • It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it.

  • ... 'men of action,' whose minds are too busy with the day's work to see beyond it ... are essential men, we cannot do without them, and yet we must not allow all our vision to be bound by the limitations of 'men of action.'

  • You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.

  • Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the action stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1946, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 4 ()
  • Is it really so difficult to tell a good action from a bad one? I think one usually knows right away or a moment afterward, in a horrid flash of regret.

  • We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her husband, John Adams (1774), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. ... Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1784), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • We want more Men of deeds, and fewer of Words.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1797), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • I detest still life — and had rather be jostled, than inanimate.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter to John Adams (1796), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Action is redemption.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1881, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 3 ()
  • We do what we can. The results are none of our business.

  • Too many of us are hung up on what we don't have, can't have, or won't ever have. We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy — if not less of it — doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do.

  • ... it is the trifles that make up the sum of existence, and every act of ours, however slight, has an influence, direct or indirect, over all our life. We make ourselves by our deeds.

  • Sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.

  • ... action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics.

    • Jane Addams,
    • "Political Reform," Democracy and Social Ethics ()
  • It does not so much matter what happens. It is what one does when it happens that really counts.

  • ... success is not a matter of circumstance, but of power to meet circumstance.

  • Slow down? Rest? With all eternity before me?

    • Sarah Bernhardt,
    • in Cornelia Otis Skinner, Elegant Wits and Grand Horizontals ()
  • If Rosa Parks had taken a poll before she sat down in the bus in Montgomery, she'd still be standing.

  • Analysis can tell us what is required, but it cannot make us act.

  • To keep a lamp burning we have to keep putting oil in it.

  • Agitate! Agitate! ought to be the motto of every reformer. Agitation is the opposite of stagnation — the one is life, the other death.

    • Ernestine L. Rose,
    • c. 1854, in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods -- No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • For those of us who have a ground of knowledge which we cannot transmit to outsiders, it is perhaps more profitable to act fearlessly than to argue.

  • Hard times require furious dancing.

  • We know that if you plan too long / nothing happens and things get worse and that / most everything is found in the action / and instinctively we get that the scariest thing / isn't dying, but not trying at all.

  • Not what we think, but what we do, / Makes saints of us: all stiff and cold, / The outlines of the corpse show through / The cloth of gold.

    • Alice Cary,
    • "Faith and Works," The Poetical Works of Alice and Phoebe Cary ()
  • The smallest deed is greater than the grandest intention.

    • Patti LaBelle,
    • in Patti LaBelle and Laura Randolph Lancaster, Patti's Pearls ()
  • The greatest happiness is to transform one's feelings into actions.

    • Madame de Staël,
    • 1796, in J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël ()
  • To me, being told to sit still and enjoy myself is logically incompatible.

  • There is danger that prayers such as 'Grant us brotherhood' may become substitutes for positive action toward creation of brotherhood in the world. It is a trick of the human spirit to turn to abstract worship of something which man will not pay the price to achieve — so vicariously he enjoys the fruits of it in an idealistic worship of something of which the realities of the world make a mockery.

    • Rose Terlin,
    • "Prayer and Christian Living," in Dorothy B. Phillips, ed., The Choice Is Always Ours ()
  • ... one act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world.

  • Nine times out of ten you take the first step in creating your own universe by picking up the phone.

  • Be sure that you are right; and then go ahead.

    • Gene Stratton-Porter,
    • motto, in Jeannette Porter Meehan, The Lady of the Limberlost: Life and Letters of Gene Stratton-Porter ()
  • Do not wait for ideal circumstances; they will never come; nor for the best opportunities.

  • Doing is a quantum leap from imagining. Thinking about swimming isn't much like actually getting in the water. Actually getting in the water can take your breath away. The defense force inside of us wants us to be cautious, to stay away from anything as intense as a new kind of action. Its job is to protect us, and it categorically avoids anything resembling danger. But it's often wrong. Anything worth doing is worth doing too soon.

  • If the world seems cold to you, / Kindle fires to warm it!

    • Lucy Larcom,
    • "Three Old Saws," The Poetical Works of Lucy Larcom ()
  • ... the way to achieve a difficult thing was to set it in motion.

  • It is so much easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant.

  • ... reaction isn't action — that is, it isn't truly creative.

  • If it's a good idea ... go ahead and do it. It's much easier to apologize than to get permission.

  • One speaks on behalf of others, one acts on behalf of oneself.

  • It has been said that there are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. Because the planning function is essential to effective organizational leadership, leaders cannot watch or wonder; they must do and plan.

  • ... our deeds have even less substance than we ourselves.

  • It is a travesty to pray daily 'Thy kingdom come' and then do nothing to help bring it to pass.

  • Let no one be deluded that a knowledge of the path can substitute for putting one foot in front of the other.

  • If you are going to do something that will annoy people, tell them about it afterwards; then they will only be annoyed that you have done it, and won't have all the exasperation of trying to stop you.

  • Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind. But great actions speak to all mankind.

  • How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment, we can start now, start slowly changing the world!

    • Anne Frank,
    • 1944, in Ralph Manheim and Michel Mok, trans., Anne Frank's Tales From the Secret Annex ()
  • No good deed goes unpunished ...

  • I have always had a dread of becoming a passenger in life.

  • Good work instead of long prayers.

    • Anne Newport Royall,
    • motto (c. 1825), in Annie Laurie Gaylor, ed., Women Without Superstition "No Gods--No Masters": The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries ()
  • Action is the antidote to despair.

  • One sad thing about this world is that the acts that take the most out of you are usually the ones that other people will never know about.

  • What we do stems directly from what we believe.

  • While it is true that without a vision the people perish, it is doubly true that without action the people and their vision perish as well.

  • That first year [of teaching] taught me that it's better to ask for forgiveness than to beg for permission.

  • ... the unwillingess to try / is worse than any failure.

  • Who can take a single step with his head?

  • ... people think they have to be good before they can act good. But ... it works just as well the other way 'round.

  • I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.

  • ... how can God direct our steps if we're not taking any?

  • The gesture is the thing truly expressive of the individual — as we think so will we act.

    • Martha Graham,
    • in John Heilpern, "The Amazing Martha," The Observer Magazine ()
  • You never put off until tomorrow or even this afternoon what you can do this morning. Attack the objective when your desire is strongest.

  • A hundred struggle and drown in the breakers. One discovers the new world. But rather, ten times rather, die in the surf, heralding the way to that new world, than stand idly on the shore!

  • I had so much rather live than write; writing is only a substitute for living ... I think one's feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.

  • Enough of passivity and passing time while waiting for the boy friend, the girl friend, the Goddess, or the Revolution.

    • Gloria Anzaldúa,
    • in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • Act, and God will act.

    • Joan of Arc,
    • 1430, in Edward Lucie-Smith, Joan of Arc ()
  • Actions are simply words set free and put into motion.

  • What does so-called success or failure matter if only you have succeeded in doing the thing you set out to do. The doing is all that really counts.

  • ... what may be done at any time, is never done.

  • One can argue that in the context of history a few years do not matter. But we live in an age in which every moment counts heavily and the price of delay is human lives.

  • It's not our business how it turns out; it's our business to live. When you do what you do completely, that's the best you can do.

  • A person can run for years but sooner or later he has to take a stand in the place which, for better or worse, he calls home, do what he can to change things there.

  • ... change dont come by waitin / change come by movin ...

    • Hattie Gossett,
    • "for my sisters at the rock seems like we could," presenting ... sister noblues ()
  • The most effective way to do it, is to do it.

  • A rolling stone gathers momentum.

  • This is my living faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, argue, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek. To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.

  • It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving.

  • What we do is never as important as how we do it.

  • The firefly only shines when on the wing. So it is with us — when we stop, we darken.

  • Maybe Nike has it right. At some point we have to stop thinking, and just do it.

    • Claire Shipman,
    • in Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, The Confidence Code ()
  • The moment I get an idea I act upon it. If only people would act on more of their ideas, I am convinced they would lead more interesting lives.

  • Action creates / a taste / for itself.

    • Kay Ryan,
    • "That Will to Divest," The Best of It ()
  • Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.