Kennon-Green & Co. Fiduciary Financial Advisor, Wealth Management, Global Value Investing

I finished Atlas Shrugged a few hours ago.  I loved it despite my not fully buying the philosophy of objectivism Ayn Rand espoused. I’ll discuss those criticisms in a future article.  In nearly 1,200 pages, the single most important line to me sums up, in ten words, why I’ve been successful when so many others haven’t.

… “we who thought and acted, while they wished and prayed” …

– John Galt, Atlas Shrugged

[mainbodyad]I touched on this concept in the article called “La molesse est douce, et sa suite est cruelle.”  Ideas are marvelous; it is from them that all else flows – success and failure, good and bad.  But ideas are worthless unless converted into action.  Understanding microwave rays won’t do anything for you but building a microwave oven turns that knowledge into popped popcorn.  Knowing how to build a violin won’t fill the world with a single note unless you actually do it.  No one will hand you the life you want.  No one will make your dreams come true.  You are the only one endowed the power to bring those things into existence.

Everything Starts with an Idea

Everything you see in life, from the freight trains you pass to the food you eat, the car you drive to the clothes you wear, exists because somewhere, a man or woman made a choice to convert an idea into action and transform matter into a form he or she desired. Whether a skyscraper or a cinnamon roll, someone had to think, take action, and bring the manifestation of their thought into the world. Image © Hemera/Thinkstock

The idea of “someday” is important.  Rand talks about the notion that the greater the mind, the longer the time perspective.  The fool thinks only of the moment, the wise man of centuries.  You should always have the “someday” goals in your mind; the things you will do when you are able and ready.  But you must make sure that “someday” doesn’t become a crutch or prison from which you never escape.  When you use it, you should always follow up with a mental question to yourself: “Why not today?

If you say to yourself, “I’ve always wanted to play the piano.”  Why not today? “I’ve always wanted to eat at that restaurant.”  Why not today? “I’ve always wanted to go back to college.”  Why not today?

That one question has enormous power.  All life comes from applied action; kinetic force that moves and shapes matter.  Every railroad, every highway, every computer, every lamp, every book, every pair of shoes, every work of art, every song ever composed, every automobile, every store, every button, every pen, every candy bar, every air conditioner … all of them came first from an idea that someone converted into matter.

This is all, of course, another way to say, “Faith without action is dead.”  Great truths never change.  They are as universal and foundational as chemistry.  Everything is causality.