The Art of Taking Action Quotes Summary

The Art of Taking Action is one of the best book on taking action I’ve ever read! It has some much impact on me. So I thought why not let’s create a summary of this book.

But then I realized this book is not meant to be summarized. It’s rather a book that everyone should read. That’s why I’m sharing the most valuable quotes I found while reading the book.

Read few quotes of the book art of taking action and you will have a clarity and the same impact that I had while reading this book.

Disclaimer: This is not a book summary. Content below is copied from the book so that you’ll get the value in words of author. I’ve devided the The Art of Taking Action book quotes as per the chapters.


The Art of Taking Action isn’t simply about keeping busy or checking things off your to-do list. It is about choosing what to do, how to do it, and the development of character.

Chapter 1 Quotes: Knowing What Action to Take

How Do You Know What Action to Take?

Each moment we choose what to do, we’re not doing everything else.

Procrastinating isn’t something you need to stop doing – it’s something you need to get better at.

What is your Purpose?

If my purpose was to get lunch and drop off the mail, then anything else was a distraction.

If you’re not taking the action you need to take, then self-discipline is a skill you need to cultivate.

Taking Risks

The problem is when security dominates our passage through life and leaves no room for taking risks.

To venture causes anxiety; not to venture is to lose oneself.

The biggest risk you can take is to do nothing at all, when you know there’s something you need to do. It doesn’t seem like a big risk right now, but when you’ve reached the end of your life, and look back with regret on what you didn’t do, then it’s too late. You’re out of time.

Inaction and security may be hazardous to your purpose!

Chapter 2 Quotes: The Psychology of Action from Japan

We do our best to manipulate the environment to provide the greatest comfort possible.

When we find ourselves in situations that stimulate emotional discomfort, we immediately look to escape from the discomfort just as if it was summer heat or winter cold. We often use one of three strategies: Avoidance, Resignation or Complaining.

Most of the tasks and challenges we face stimulate mental and emotional processes. Fear, anxiety, boredom, frustration or lack of confidence may accompany us at any time.

When we are caught up in our idealized views about how we should be, we cannot accept things as they are.

Action and Intention

Intentions don’t necessarily result in action, and most of us have learned that from our experience with New Year’s resolutions.

What does Lead to Action?

By reflecting on our past (perhaps just the past week) we’re reminded of something we should do for someone who was supportive or helpful to us.

Self-reflection can help us appreciate the capacity to do our work, and to bring that sense of appreciation to the work itself.

Chapter 3: Inaction

Deciding is Not Doing

Consider the implications of a life in which you don’t have the power, focus, or single-mindedness to do what you say you will do. Imagine the countless times your wiser self decides on a particular course of action, only to be blown off course by the merest breeze of immediate desire. There’s a helplessness, a scattered, drifting quality about such a life.

To Merely Want to Do Something is Not Enough

There is no merit in just thinking about doing something. The result is exactly the same as not thinking about it. It is only doing the thing that counts. I shall acquire the habit of doing what I have in mind to do.

The habit of action—this, I think, is the most important thing we must acquire. Life’s success or failure actually depends on this one thing. So what should we do? We should get so that it is second nature to put our thoughts into action. Start now, today. True, it is easier to say than to do, but the more you do it, the more of a habit it will become. It is an indispensable skill.

To know something and not to put it into practice is a weak point, but knowledge is mere knowledge, and is not to be confused with ability and skill. Not until knowledge becomes an inseparable part of one is it an ability or skill.

There are plenty of people who know a lot about baseball and can criticize a game; however, the spectator lacks the intuitive skills, judgment, and physical coordination of the experienced player.

Because they are incapable of putting thoughts into action straight away time after time, people’s destiny never develops. They close the stable door after the horse is gone. Chances come to everyone. Yes, chances come; but we don’t grasp them. By not claiming them we renounce them.

The Stress of Not Getting Things Done

Pondering why I don’t feel like doing what I say I want to do, yet discovering one more time how great it often feels after I’ve done it, is just another reliable way to distract myself from the effort of doing the next thing. There is no substitute for “accepting my feelings”(of laziness or boredom, or anxiety, or whatever happens to appear), knowing my purpose” and then “DOING IT.” My stress is relieved almost from the moment I start, and I go to bed that night satisfied with what got accomplished.

Attitude and Action

It’s not what happens to you in life that counts, but your attitude and what you do about it.

Aimlessness and procrastination create frustration, and the stress of frustration is much more likely than that of excessive muscular work or engrossing mental work, to produce disease.

When I do experience the signs of stress, it is a relief to observe that some of my stressful moments fade with the passage of time; some by exercise; others by reflection, but mostly by looking at what needs doing in my life that I’m not attending to, and getting it done. That offers me true relief.

Chapter 4 Quotes: Starting

Action isn’t something that comes after figuring things out. Action is a way of figuring things out.

So the next time you felt self stuck and immobile—whether from depression or a bout of the flu—try starting your engine with just the slightest muscle movements. It may help your body get in gear, even as your mind tells you “you can’t.”

You feel bad about neglecting your hobby, but on the other hand you acknowledge that the hobby isn’t that serious and that you shouldn’t worry about it too much. Then you tend to procrastinate even more.

Show Up

Your discipline is in showing up which takes a lot less discipline than working on your project for three hours after dinner.

That’s because the suffering caused by anticipation is worse than the actual reality. We actually create more suffering for ourselves by procrastinating than we would if we just jumped into what we need to do.

Chapter 5: The Way of Action

Resolutions and Inspiration

One big difference between the thought-world and the real-world is the degree of control we have. This was one of the great insights of Japanese psychiatrist Shoma Morita (Morita Therapy). We actually have very little control over our thoughts. Thoughts arise. They dissolve.

Other thoughts arise and dissolve. In the course of our normal day, it is very unusual to “will” ourselves to have a particular thought. Good ideas, worries, likes, dislikes, criticisms of others, frustrating thoughts, thoughts about the past – they mostly arise spontaneously.

On the other hand, we have much more control over our behavior. We can will ourselves to remain silent during a presentation, pick up the phone and make a call, answer an email, or drive to the store.

Small Steps and the Law of Momentum

It’s also true that when an object is in motion it will basically stay in motion. This is what we refer to as momentum. This is why small steps can be so valuable. They offer momentum at fairly low cost.

We abandon curiosity and investigation in order to rest comfortably in our perceived sense of certainty. Try investing something today. Be curious. Stretch yourself. Take on a problem for which the answer is shrouded in mystery. Don’t just think about it actually investigate it.

Working with the Condition we encounter

The conditions of our lives will always be less than ideal. But just to be planted on this earth for the short period of time we call ‘this life’ is truly a gift that we should continuously reflect on.

The Perils of Excitement

It is not really the felling of excitement itself which is the culprit here, t is the loss of excitement which then prompts us to abandon our efforts towards fulfillment of our dreams, dreams which are, at one time, very exciting to us.

The only way to really deal with the problem of excitement is to stop becoming dependent on it. We stop connecting the feeling of excitement with the persistence of action-taking. We stay with something because it remains important, even after our excited feelings are gone.

Non-attachment: Effort and Outcomes

Whenever we’re facing a challenging situation, one of the wisest things we can do is take a few minutes to distinguish between what’s controllable and what isn’t controllable.

Finding a job, losing weight, getting a book published or finding someone or an intimate relationship are examples of outcomes which you really can’t control. When we implicitly define success based on accomplishing something outside our control. Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes we aren’t. The alternative is to focus on the effort we make.

We have to find a way to enjoy the journey, even when we don’t get the results we hoped for. Sometimes, those surprising, unhoped-for results are a real blessing. Then we realize that life can be worthwhile without us being in control.

Keep Your Feet Moving

First, remember that the demons aren’t real. But when you encounter them they will seem real. So you must maintain a presence of mind and know, even as you are filled with fear, that the demon is not real.

Dealing with Deadlines

But the real difference between coping with procrastination and overcoming it is … feelings! Most procrastination is caused by a tendency to make a decision, in the present moment, based on what we feel like doing at that moment. And if we don’t feel like doing something NOW, then we’re not likely to feel like doing it later, because (are you following this?) later will just be another NOW. If you don’t feel like doing your taxes NOW, just accept that you’ll probably never feel like doing them.

All the time management systems in the world won’t really help us very much until we’ve developed the capacity to make decisions based on purpose rather than feelings.

We can co-exist with our feelings and take them along for the ride. We don’t fight them. We don’t fix them. We don’t transform them. We coexist with them, while we move forward and take appropriate action.

It takes maturity to work on something far in advance of a deadline if the activity isn’t something we like.

It’s a battle of feelings. The alternative is to simply do the work because it’s what needs to be done, regardless of how we feel. We can call this maturity, or self-discipline, but it’s really about developing the skill to coexist with our feelings and take action anyway.

Chapter 6 Quotes: Compassionate Action

Real action is meant to comfort others, meant to demonstrate love and concern. If somebody falls down and you just look and smile at him, then you’re obviously not interested in helping him. If you actually go forward, pick him up and you can find out whether he’s hurt himself, help him to clean his wound. If he’s bruised, then you clean up his bruises, you put a little bit of plaster on it- that shows that you’re really concerned.

But if you just stand there, smile and say,”Oh how are you, are you feeling bad?” and you don’t make a move to do anything about that, then nobody is going to believe that you’re really concerned even if you do speak the same language. Actions do speak louder than words.

-Aung San Suu Kyi

Be clear about your purpose, accept your feelings and thoughts, and then just do what needs doing.

Chapter 7 Quotes: Defeating the Demons of Inaction


The best strategy for coping skillfully with fear is to develop the ability to coexist… to accept our internal state, whether we like it or not, and continue on with our plans, knowing that our feelings will change soon enough.

It is difficult to build our dreams without coexisting with the feelings that come up in the process of creating those dreams.


Boredom may be indicator that we are not paying attention to the details of what we are doing. When we pay attention to details, our curiosity is often awakened.


We need to accept the possibility that we might fail or make mistakes and move forward cautiously, but, nevertheless, move forward.

Chapter 8 Notes: One More Thing

Don’t just be in the Audience

It’s easier to read a book than to write one. It’s easier to watch basketball than to play. It’s easier to listen to music than to write a song. Well, why not just create something of your own? Why not just add something to universe?.

With this we come to the end of The Art of Taking Action Quotes Summary by Gregg Krech. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks that it’s hard to take action on most important things in life! This book helped me a lot & it will help you too.

Also let me know in the comments, which quote of the book art of taking action hit you hard!

Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave

Omkar Mirajgave is the founder of He is an avid book reader. After reading 100+ book summaries and 80+ books, he realized book summaries can help him choose better books. He writes about interesting book summaries, reading tips, the best books to read, and everything related to books!