Don’t Just Do It

Dont Just Do it

I don’t like the word “just”.

Don’t get me wrong, “just” is a fine word, especially when used in a triple-word space in Scrabble.  It has all sorts of good uses and meanings…even used to fill time when we are thinking, along with the other great words and phrases of our culture, such as “like”, ”um”, “I mean” and ”you know.” 

I simply do not like the word “just” when it is used to place limits on or minimize something we are doing.  It might be unintentional, but many of us use the word to lower the bar:

“I just want to go to church and sit quietly and enjoy the service.”

“I just want to go to work and have no one bother me.”

“I just want to attend that meeting without someone asking me to speak up.”

“I just want to retire.”

Can you imagine someone stating, ”I just want to be a missionary”?  Devoting your entire life, both present and future to God’s will and work, giving up everything you planned in your life for the service of God’s kingdom seems a bit larger than “just” another path in life. 

Now imagine someone who “just wants to be a writer.”  It sounds like a person who aspires to write ad copy for Craigslist.

Purpose, passion, energy and total commitment are what it takes to be good at anything.

Many years ago, I decided to never “just” do anything (except for mundane things like getting dressed, washing dishes, taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn of course). My wife will often precede something she is about to say that contains the dreaded word with an apologetic disclaimer.  I might have gone too far with this entire thing, but it is too late to turn back now.  (Dedicated to the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose)

Many years ago, as a way to remember to not “just” do anything, I wrote myself a note and pinned it up next to my desk.  Here it is:

I Love Mondays

  • They are the beginning of an opportunity to do something significant. It might the start of the best week of my life.
  • Do important stuff.
  • When confusion reigns, remember what is important.
  • Harness creativity, intuition and wisdom to beat back ambiguity and randomness.
  • Have fun.
  • Do it all for the glory of God.

Who in their right mind would actually look forward to Mondays? (and not “just” because Steve Laube’s blog post is on Monday)

Zig Ziglar said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

So, don’t “just” write…write with everything in you, but first, maybe write yourself a note.

What drives you?

9 Responses to Don’t Just Do It

  1. DIANA HARKNESS March 25, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    I completely agree. In fact, I wrote about it on my blog, also. http://solitruthwriting.blogspot.com/2012/06/self-deprecating-prayerslets-keep-it.html

  2. Jeanne Takenaka March 25, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    Great post, Dan. I hadn’t thought about “Just” quite this way before. But I agree. “Just” doing something devalues the thing we want to accomplish. It indicates either we don’t feel passionately about doing it, or it’s not something we truly want to do. I’ve heard the Zig Ziglar quote before. It’s a good one to remember.

    What drives me? Ultimately the desire to fulfill the callings God placed in my life. When I know what I need to do/am called to do, I want to do it with all my heart and strength. I think the key for me is knowing what I need to focus on, what my “calling” is. When I know it, I work to do it well.

  3. Sondra Kraak March 25, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    I love this, though reading it with my four year old nearby is a bit distracting. I said to him, “Just let me finish reading this.” How easily that word slips in, and I never thought about it lowering the bar. I’ll be more conscious now of when and how I use this four-letter word.

  4. Catherine Hackman March 25, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    I have been thinking about this in regard to my writing. Do I want to write for Him? Then it has to be the best. Do I just want to write? Then it doesn’t have to be that good, and what’s the point?

  5. K. Douglas Brown March 25, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    Very clever Dan! Thanks! Reminds me of some helpful writing advice I once received from an editor. After you finish writing something reread your piece and try taking out every “that,” “actually,” “really,” “just” and references to “today,” or “in life.” It doesn’t always work but I keep the list handy and use it often.

  6. Christina March 25, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Agreed. I transcribe on the side, and the words you mentioned have far more impact when typed repeatedly. This goes along with something I wrote about the “Get to principle”. We don’t have to do things, we get to do them. There’s a big difference between just do it and do it.

  7. Penny Zeller March 25, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Great post, Dan! I especially loved your “I Love Mondays” list.

  8. J.D. Maloy March 25, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Nike might change their slogan.

    What drives me:

    1) working hard for the Kingdom’s glory
    2) my family, especially my husband who has supported me for many years
    3) my writing community who rocks the house. I would be lost without them.
    5) passion for the lives changed by the words God gives me
    4) Music

    All drive me. Everyday.

  9. Becky Jones March 27, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Dan—

    My mom works in a hospice home. She likes to remind folks that there, “even the Mondays matter.” She’s smart like that!

    Re: Just. It can be a good word, if used sparingly…but I agree we’ve taken it out of context…we use it to soften our ambition and hedge against failure, making sure we don’t come out of the gate too strong.

    BUT: Didn’t Jesus have something to say about being lukewarm? ;)

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