THE POWER OF ACTION: 6 lessons from the life of Albert Ellis

Take action! An inch of movement will take you closer to your goals than a mile of intention

-Steve Maraboli

Talk to the world’s greatest motivational speakers and all the lesson that one gets on achieving success is ‘take action’. In his book, 100 ways to motivate yourself by Steve Chandler, the author points out categorically the relevance of taking action or engaging into behviours that move you towards the achievement of your goals.

One of the greatest Psychotherapists, Albert Ellis, not only founded the theory of behaviour and thought modification but much before establishing the principles, on which the theory is based, lived it himself too. Having been born into a family where he had a very distant emotional relationship with parents, he took care of his younger siblings until he made it to a University away from home to pursue graduation. As he grew into a young adult, he realized how painfully shy he had been all his life and determined to challenge it when he was 19.

That is when he determined to talk to every woman whom he saw in Bronx Botanical Gardens. Out of the 130 women he approached, 30 walked away immediately while he made success in talking to 100 of them. He persisted in his efforts irrespective of how anxious he felt and got one date as a result of this effort too. More than anything he says, the best reward of making this continuous effort was that his shyness disappeared. Similarly he overcame his fear of public speaking and became an proficient public speaker. In a 2004 interview with the New York Times, he distinctly mentioned with regards to the effects of psychotherapy; “you have to back it up with action, action, action”.

On overcoming his greatest weakness of talking to people, he went ahead to become a proficient public speaker. Despite his initial failures at publications, he persevered with his efforts in writing and went on to author and co-author more than 80 books and more than 1200 articles in his lifetime. He also gained popularity as a social commentator debating several philosophers, psychologists and politicians.

Take away from the life of Albert Ellis:

  • Recognize your responsibilities. (He took care of his younger siblings)
  • Do not play the victim. (He could have sat doing nothing in childhood thinking his environment was not congenial for growth)
  • Do not engage in blame game. (Being the eldest child of a mother with bi-polar disorder, he had all reasons to blame his parents but he rather took action.)
  • Identify your fears. (He identified his shyness as a big deterrent to his personality)
  • Challenge your fears through something interesting. (He challenged shyness by setting a goal to talk to women and ultimately found a date for himself too)
  • Just do it. (All that counts is the perseverance to just continue)


To sum up:

Behavioural change is the key to moving forward. Unless we recognize what needs to be done to move forward and continue to walk the path, we won’t really know how many mountains we can move. So arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached, as said by Swami Vivekanand.