How often are you taking action compared to taking notice?

Today is June 7 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you taking action compared to taking notice?” One of the challenges you encounter while navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well is to differentiate when you should act compared to when you should take notice. There are times when you can do something with your resources, time, or money, and then there are situations where taking notice is the only option available to you. The important thing here is to develop your self-awareness so you at least take notice instead of burying your head in the sand. Having the self-awareness to know the difference between taking notice and acting is a helpful tool to use while navigating the chaos.

One such person who took action instead of just taking notice was actor Tippi Hedren. By using the resources available to her, Hedren acted, revolutionized an entire industry, and in so doing empowered a group of Americans looking for a way to thrive in their newly adopted country.


Director Alfred Hitchcock discovered Hedren while watching her in a television commercial in 1961. Hedren received world recognition for her work in two of his films, the suspense-thriller The Birds in 1963, for which she won a Golden Globe and the psychological drama Marnie in 1964.

When she was not onscreen, Hedren was an international relief coordinator with the organization Food for the Hungry. After Saigon fell, she was working with Vietnamese women in a refugee camp near Sacramento when several women admired her long, glossy nails. Hedren had a manicurist named Dusty at the time and asked her if she would come to the camp to meet with the women. Dusty agreed, and Hedren flew her up to Camp Hope every weekend to teach nail technology to 20 eager women.

Hedren also flew in seamstresses and typists all in the name of helping “find vocations for the Vietnamese women.” Hedren also recruited a local beauty school to help teach the women. When they graduated, Hedren helped get the women jobs all over Southern California. Those 20 women—mainly the wives of high-ranking military officers and at least one woman who worked in military intelligence—went on to transform the industry, which is now worth about $8 billion and is dominated by Vietnamese-Americans.

Hedren's work with the Vietnamese-Americans was the subject of Happy Hands, directed by Honey Lauren, which won Best Documentary Short at the Sonoma International Film Festival in 2014. French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac noted "It is easy to sit up and take notice, what is difficult is getting up and taking action." So how can one differentiate between acting and taking notice? One answer rests with the nine elements of life exercise.

William Arthur Ward, one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims, penned the following statement where he defined the nine elements of life:

“The adventure of life is to learn.

The purpose of life is to grow.

The nature of life is to change.

The challenge of life is to overcome.

The essence of life is to care.

The opportunity of life is to serve.

The secret of life is to dare.

The spice of life is to befriend.

The beauty of life is to give.”

To help you better understand when to act and when to notice, determine your own answers to each of the nine elements. Doing so can help provide some much-needed perspective, focus, and clarity.

How would you define each of the nine elements?

The adventure of life is to ______________________________.

The purpose of life is to ______________________________.

The nature of life is to ______________________________.

The challenge of life is to ______________________________.

The essence of life is to ______________________________.

The opportunity of life is to ______________________________.

The secret of life is to ______________________________.

The spice of life is to ______________________________.

The beauty of life is to ______________________________.

As you go about your day, reflect upon your nine elements, and use your answers to increase your self-awareness on how often you act compared to taking notice. Remember, the key here is to know when you can act based on your current life situation. Sometimes all you can do is notice and that needs to be good enough.


As you reflect upon today’s Navigate the Chaos question considering asking yourself the following series of questions to help you understand the options available to you:


Can I act at the international level?

Can I act at the national level?

Can I act at the regional level?

Can I act at the state level?

Can I act at the county level?

Can I act at the local level?

Can I act at the neighborhood level?

Can I act at the residence level?

Can I act at the social media level?

Can I just take notice?

If all you can do is take notice because you are caring for an sick relative, an elderly parent, or because of work well that is certainly better than keeping your head in the sand.

If, however, you are unsure what to do the social media platforms allows one to get involved without even leaving the house. Perhaps you get involved on one level and doing so provides you with an opportunity to take your involvement to another level.

For example, on Thursday, June 4, 2020, over 10,000 people gathered in the streets of Nashville, Tennessee to protest racism and police brutality thanks to six teenage girls who both noticed and acted. Jade Fuller, Nya Collins, Zee Thomas, Kennedy Green, Emma Rose Smith, and Mikayla Smith — ages 14 to 16 — met on social media, Collins told Nashville’s WTVF news station. “We all met on Twitter,” Collins said. “And that’s how easy it is to do something like this.”

We all navigate the chaos differently. This 365-day series of questions reminds us there is no one way to accomplish goals, translate dreams into reality, or navigate the chaos of life. Those who successfully travel their path do so in their own unique way. Some take notice and create change in their own household. Some get involved at the national level. Both are fine. The key is to increase your self-awareness and ask “how often do I act compared to taking notice?”