Don’t Be a Hamlet

I read a book some years ago called The Hamlet Syndrome. The book has some major flaws and I don’t necessarily recommend it, but one good point the book made had to do with the perils of thinking without action—i.e. of being a Hamlet. Don’t be a Hamlet. If something is important enough to you, then put it into a plan of action. It will either play out successfully, or it won’t. If you study the biographies of accomplished people — as I do all the time — you will find that in every case they operate on this premise. They might have only one major accomplishment, with everything else a string of failures or disappointment (only in the extreme case) — yet there never would have been that one worthy accomplishment without the willingness to reject the premise, “I should establish this as realistic before I start.” I suggest this operating principle, instead: If you are certain it’s unrealistic or impossible, don’t do it. If you are uncertain, then assume it’s possible unless/until evidence emerges to the contrary. Assume you can do it unless there’s proof that you cannot.