The Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective use of the word “deliberate” as:
1 Done consciously and intentionally: ‘a deliberate attempt to provoke conflict’
2 Careful and unhurried: ‘a conscientious and deliberate worker’
2.1 Fully considered; not impulsive: ‘a deliberate decision’
In common usage today, the word is most often associated with actions that are intentional, thus done “on purpose”, and as a specific reference to slow and possibly painstaking progress in the interest of either getting something right, or attaining a desired goal: “His progress was slow and deliberate.”
While this may be accurate as far as it goes, I will invoke my CP (Curmudgeonly Prerogative), openly declare it far too limiting for my taste, and proceed to convince you, Dear Reader, that you should find it likewise. At least those among you who wish to be realistically considered a True Student of anything.
To begin, let us abandon the “inside the box” oversimplification of “deliberate” as meaning “on purpose” in favour of the more accurately superior “WITH purpose”. This takes the utterance out of the infantile realm of the child who rubs his reddened cheek crying out at he who slapped him the tearful accusation, “You did that on purpose!!!” and into that of one who, having tired of simple flirtation for flirtation’s sake, may choose to push the object of his desire against a wall, kiss her long and soundly, compelling her to utter her own breathless accusation at the end of it – “Sir! You did that with purpose!”
So, to clarify, in the first instance we have the slapper accused by the slappee of something he may still choose to deny, and who in fact may have calculated his attack specifically to offer that deniability. Our Man in the second instance is a completely different animal, for he launched his enterprise with the absolute intention of owning all responsibility, free of any doubt or possible deniability, and in equally absolute willingness to weather all possible outcomes. I invite you to consider this carefully, for what may at first have seemed a trivial distinction becomes, in application, anything but.
The next matter to attend to is the unfortunate association of the word “deliberate” with a slow, even plodding, pace of progress. Wyatt Earp, who died in 1929 at the age of 80 in spite of best efforts on his own part and that of a few others, understood the folly in this, and encapsulated his demonstrably sound grasp in answer to having his remarkable success as a gun fighter characterized as a matter of speed:
“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. In a gun fight… You need to take your time in a hurry.” ~ Wyatt Earp
All this being said, and keeping my CP in mind, let us revisit the Oxford definition we started with:
1 Done consciously and intentionally: As our decisive Lover above demonstrated, know your goal and the path leading to it. Remember, decisiveness and absolute commitment to the enterprise is not to be equated with taking a leap from a cliff where your only chance for success lies in hoping to land on the soft rocks. Rather, it’s more accurately the launching of your canoe into the sometimes turbulent waters of a river that flows toward your destination, offering the opportunity to steer clear of obstacles or portage around them, to haul out and consider options, to boldly run the rapids, and even to drown en voyage should the Gods decree though the goal be worth the risk.
2 Careful and unhurried: In this, I invite you to revisit the words of Wyatt Earp. “Careful” is not the same as shunning risk, nor is “unhurried” the same as slow.
2.1 Fully considered; not impulsive: Deliberateness must, of necessity, contain the crucial ingredient of preparedness. Readiness in mind, body, and spirit to meet whatever may be the matter at hand so that, even faced with a surprise, we are not caught flat footed and have options at hand. “Fully considered” then, is not the same as “overthought”, and “impulsive” must never be confused with boldness of action.
I will leave you these thoughts to weigh against your own wins, losses, and goals until next time when we take the next step in this line of thought.