A young man asked Socrates the secret to success. Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning.

They met. Socrates asked the young man to walk with him towards the river.

When the water got up to their neck, Socrates took the young man by surprise and ducked him into the water.

The boy struggled to get out but Socrates was strong and kept him there until the boy started turning blue.

Socrates pulled his head out of the water and the first thing the young man did was to gasp and take a deep breath of air.

Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when you were there?”

The boy replied, “Air.”

Socrates said, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air, then you will get it. There is no other secret.

I have seen many versions of this parable online. Despite the ambiguity concerning its source, the narrative never fails to inspire me!

Moral of the Story:

It can’t get any simpler.

If you want success in an endeavor, you must take the weak flickering flame of a wish, fan it and turn it into an inferno.

Only then will you have the light to see your path and reach your destination and the warmth to melt the resistance of procrastination.

But such intense wanting is often difficult to cultivate.

This is where GTD® helps. For everything that comes into your life, the clarifying process gets you to ask, “Is it Actionable?”

If yes, then:

  • What’s the successful outcome?
  • What’s the Next Action?

Once this is clarified, it is impossible for us to stay neutral.

Either we realize that the project is worth working on.

Or we come to the conclusion that we are better off not pursuing the opportunities it offers.

There is no middle ground.

What we stand to gain or lose by engaging becomes crystal clear.

You can then take desire up a notch and turn it into burning ambition by exploring how your actions impact all your Horizons of Focus® – right up to that of your overarching life’s purpose.


Hi! I’m a Master Trainer in Getting Things Done®. Besides getting my real estate business under control, GTD® has helped me to explore my passions in Art & Spirituality, which has allowed me to publish four books. I’m here to show you how you can use GTD to master the Art of Stress-Free Productivity.