My son-in-law accused me of being an “over-doer” the other night when I was talking about preparing for houseguests. I was just being me—cooking a special dinner for them, adjusting my schedule so everything would be ready for their arrival…planning out activities for the coming day…making sure that things are handled and people feel the love.

What’s that old adage—If you want something done, ask a busy person?

I couldn’t agree more.

By my personal estimate, roughly 25% of us are “doers”…50% are “talkers”…and the remaining 25% don’t even try. Which are you?

Doers are the people who make it all happen. They’re the organizers and creators…the ones who are always happy to donate their time and effort to a project or program. They’re not necessarily in charge…but they always are deep in the mix.

When our kids were young and parents were needed to help out at the schools and with their sports teams and clubs, I wasn’t surprised to see that the same handful of parents were always the ones to volunteer. I don’t even know how some of them managed to do all they did—volunteering for “every committee” while juggling high-powered jobs. It was several years before I realized that my daughter’s really charming field hockey coach actually was the CFO of a major Fortune 500 company.

Beyond getting involved at work, with volunteering or the local pickleball league, “doers” speak up to right the world’s wrongs and make things work better.

As an example, this past weekend, one of the houseguests I was getting ready for was a first-time skier. Rather than ask me to teach her (never a good idea!), she purchased a half-day lesson. Sadly, the instructor was inexperienced and provided very little teaching, so the lesson was essentially a waste of $200—shameful for the ski school and frustrating for this young woman. We tried calling the school that afternoon, but it was already closed. Then we sent a stern e-mail explaining the situation and received a reply on Monday morning that the school would offer our friend another lesson when she visits again in a few weeks. Score one for integrity.

Then there are the talkers. How many people do you know who say they’re going to do something but it never quite gets done? They talk big…have big dreams…but somehow don’t follow through on any of it. They even may ask you for advice…repeatedly…and yet when you follow up with them, they’re still just talking about it. Of course, there’s always a reason why they can’t start or finish…

  • They would be happy to volunteer but [fill in the excuse here—they’re busy…have a dentist appointment…a spouse is away…their kids’ schedules are crazy…it is just not a good time].
  • Their ADHD is so bad they never can complete things.
  • They want to do it but have to wait until “the right time.”
  • They were going to exercise today, but [fill in the blank of whatever got in the way of their time].

The list goes on and on.

Talkers make themselves (and others) feel like they’re doing something even though nothing ever gets completed…or perhaps even started. They make themselves feel better by at least saying they intend to do something, and they save face with friends, family and colleagues by pretending to be engaged and active.

Sadly, it’s all virtue signaling and covering for their own fears and insecurities. Talkers often are simply afraid to step out of their comfort zone. Intending to do something, however, does not create the pride of achievement.

Those who don’t even try do it (or, rather, don’t do it) in two ways—by silently keeping their heads below the radar so they avoid getting “roped in” to doing something…or by complaining about it.

The complainers spend their time judging the efforts of others, pointing out the flaws and errors of the system yet taking no action to change things. They sit in their role as judge and jury yet see no point in getting involved because they think their efforts would be futile or they think they’re too important to make the effort and “someone else” should handle it.   

Complainers are frustrating, but the silent avoiders make me sad because they have given up and feel like they are not important enough even to make a difference. They’re wrong—everyone can make a difference, be it big or small.

So which are you?

When snacks are needed at your child’s school or sports event, do you a) bake some yourself…b) write a check…c) pretend that you didn’t get the request?

When the office is sponsoring a team of people to volunteer for a charity or to compete in an event, do you a) sign up to participate or help out…b) excuse yourself from doing it because you aren’t good at that activity…c) say you’re busy that day?

When the doctor suggests that you lose some weight, do you a) clean the treats out of your pantry and fridge…b) poll your friends for what their favorite diet is…c) tell yourself that you can’t live without your nightly dish of ice cream?

Seeing a pattern here? You don’t have to be highly skilled to participate and do things. You just have to want to make things different for yourself and/or the world around you. You just have to do it.

Are you tired of not getting what you want in life? Do something.

Frustrated that you aren’t happy with your job? Change it.

Disappointed that your weight, blood sugar and/or cholesterol are too high and your energy is too low? Stop thinking there’s nothing you can do to change it. Yes, you can live without cookies and milk at 10:00 at night…and find 10 minutes in your day for a walk outside.

Sad that you are home alone? Find a club or activity or church or synagogue to meet new people.

Think your parents are mean and your siblings are annoying? Go create a new family with dear friends you select.

Life is not perfect. There are always disappointments and frustrations. That’s life.

The choice is yours. You can give up on making things better…you can talk about it…or you can have some fun, push yourself and do something about it.

Related Articles