“The time to act is when there is nothing yet to do.”
– Deng Ming-Dao
Another quote by author Deng Ming-Dao is, “Act when matters have not yet emerged, or when things are still small.” This saying emphasizes the importance of not waiting to act too late. It is important to act while things may still be affected, rather than waiting too long and letting the situation get out of control.
This principle has ramifications in many areas of our lives. Take a moment right now to think of situations you should have “nipped in the bud,” but failing to do so allowed things to get worse. Now think of another time when you acted before negative consequences emerged and prevented things from getting out of hand.
One prolific author that I really like, Don Aslett, sums it up in two simple words, “Be Early.” This principle is a key to his time or event management system that has allowed him to accomplish a tremendous amount of goals. And in a sense, it is very close to “the time to act is when there is nothing yet to do.”
Deng Ming-Dao discusses how when raising children, it is easy to establish certain parameters when they are young, but once they get older, it becomes harder and harder to do. He also uses the workplace as an example when he says it is easy to do an assignment when you act in a timely fashion and get the right people to contribute their parts at the right time. But if you miss a step, it becomes difficult to go back and correct later. If your timing is off, you miss deadlines.
We can all think of things that would have been simple, but became difficult because we did not act while matters were small.
When it comes to our martial art training, we train now and continue to train, before we ever have to use such skills. We act when there is nothing yet to do. Sure, we enjoy training, but regardless if we are training for self-defense or competition, we must put the time in training before we can expect to win a medal or prevail on the street.
We can even take this and look at the similar quote often attributed to Ed Parker, “He who hesitates meditates – horizontally.” This is very true in an actual self-defense situation. Often an immediate, effective, counterattack is the only thing that will prevent you from being beaten or killed. Waiting will be too late. And in this case, acting too late can be the difference between life and death.
Think about this and remember, “The time to act is when there is nothing yet to do.”