Irrevocable Action

by Josh Carney

For the first 32 years, I played the safe game. I didn’t think I was; in fact, I believed I was pushing the envelope.  The truth is, what I thought was pushing was anything but. One simple lesson changed my life, and continues to be relevant today almost ten years later:

Act irrevocably.

So much of our upbringing is designed to keep us safe, prevent failure, and in fact to imply that failure is somehow a reflection of our worth. Like the student who is congratulated for an “A” but admonished to try even harder, we start to play a safe game.  We choose the path that can guarantee an “A,” for fear we will be punished. This leads to never quite using everything we have, because that is on the risky edge of existence, and guarantees an occasional failure. How can we break out of this, you ask?

Act irrevocably. Start small, like when you need to make an unpleasant phone call, and procrastinate. Instead of thinking about it, dial without thinking and step off the small cliff. Once the call is made, you are now in the world of action, and will find a way through. Want a promotion? Blurt out the need to get lunch with your boss, before you can talk yourself out of it, and again, now you must take action. It may not always work out, but you will begin to develop the habit of a bias towards action, not deliberation. A problem in the community? Commit to something, and before you know it you will be making a difference. If you cannot take back the small spark of action, you must move ahead, and you will find success far more often than failure.

The other thing you will find is a new excitement and joy in life, because you will be truly living it. Make no mistake, we all have the same end ahead of us, and no one gets a second chance to live another life. Would you rather be the one who says “I am so glad for the experiences I have lived and those I have impacted!” or “There is so much I wish I had done when I could…”? Start now, and while you may have failures, you will not have regrets.


Josh Carney is president of Carney Engineering Group, a structural engineering company based in downtown York. He is active in community organizations, including Childcare Consultants, YS Education Foundation, and as a board member of Leadership York. Josh resides in York with his wife and children and is a graduate of both the 2011 Mentorship York program and 2004 Leadership Training Program.