Put Your Feet on the Floor

The Wisdom of a Fisherman

5 minute read

I met Brian while in college. Hailing from the coastal town of Newport, RI, Brian spent his summers working as a commercial fisherman. But that meant he also spent his summer nights in downtown Newport - one of the best places for any college-aged adult to spend a summer.

Having grown up in town, Brian knew just about every bouncer and bartender. This opened every door we could have asked for. Without fail, late summer nights quickly turned into early summer mornings.

And so we would seemingly find ourselves in the same situation on those Newport weekends. Catching up over dinner on Friday night, we talked about how fun it would be to get up and go fishing with Brian the next morning. Being out on the ocean, catching monster fish as the sun comes up always sounded like a good idea at 5pm the night before. But when the alarm went off at 4am the next morning - seemingly when we had just closed our eyes - we realized what a terrible plan this was.

But fish and lobster wait for no man. And Brian, never missed a launch.

As soon as that alarm went off, he was sitting up and putting his clothes on. For those of us who had committed to going, but were now pretending like we did not hear the alarm, Brian would keep repeating out loud to us: “Just put your feet on the floor. Put your feet on the floor. Put your feet on the floor.”

While I did not appreciate it at the time, these six simple words were magical. Because once you put your feet on the floor, the cobwebs started to clear. And then as you started getting dressed, you were feeling a little better. By the time you walked down the stairs and filled a cup with coffee, you almost felt alive. Once you were in the car, with the windows down, smelling the scent of summer mornings mixed with the ocean breeze, you were ready to work.

This complete transformation was brought about by the simple words + easy action of simply putting your feet on the floor.

Put Your Feet on the Floor

This simple mantra has stuck with me ever since. In fact, as I found myself delaying the actual writing of this, I started telling myself: “put your feet on the floor.” Lo and behold, here I am typing this up.

The reality is that It is easy to stay in bed. Here we can safely daydream about endless possibilities. In truth, this is probably my preferred setup - reading a book on the couch with a pen and notebook nearby.

But as Marcus Aurelius writes in his Meditations:

“So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?”

All of these ideas and goals and ambitions we have don’t mean dick until we actually put our feet on the floor. Until you are willing to bring them down from the comfortable, safe, daiquiri-sipping, gently swinging hammocks in your head and merge them with the physical blood, sweat, and tears that action demands, you are living in a fantasy world.

You have to be willing to put your feet on the floor in order to make them happen.

You have to introduce them to the world to see what they are made of.

You have to be prepared to continue working on them, correcting course as you go.

I am not saying that fantasy worlds should not exist. Again, my default setting is programmed to “fantasy world.” Reading and thinking are essential prerequisites to action. After all, doing 💩 just to do 💩often results in exactly that.

Perfect Does Not Exists

At the same time, you have to understand that there is never going to be a perfect moment to put your feet on the floor. It is easy to tell yourself that you can do it once this piece falls into place, or once that comes through.

But provided that you have taken the time to think about the next steps and formed a general strategy, you won’t know how the plan will actually unfold until you actually start implementing it. As the philosopher Mike Tyson says: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Instead, we are better served by stress-testing these ideas as often as possible. Let them get dirty, help them become less fragile, discover what parts are resilient. And then correct, incorporate, and continue.

One. Step. At. A. Time.

Momentum is Your Friend

There is power in starting. It creates momentum. With your feet on the floor, you can now stand up. Now that you are standing, you can get dressed. Once you are dressed, you can put on your shoes. With your shoes, laced up, you are ready to run. But it all starts with first putting your feet on the floor.

This is the act of commitment that facilitates everything else (en route to creating consistency).

So what ideas do you think you are doing a favor by keeping safe? What project can you start today, simply by putting your feet on the floor?

No more waiting. Let's get to building.