The Beginning is the Most Important Part of the Work

‘The Beginning is the Most Important Part of the Work’ – Plato || Abstract GD Topic

This quote by Plato, the Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, sums up the central issue some accountants have with tax planning – they just cannot get started. The day to day grind of servicing the needs of compliance clients leaves them with little time or energy to develop new services, skills, and expertise (like tax planning).  The day to day grind can consume all your time and leave nothing for the truly important stuff. This is nothing new of course and was first written about by Plato approximately 2,400 years ago. This is the basis of his famous quote, ‘The Beginning is the Most Important Part of the Work.’ Without the beginning there is nothing. Once a start is made (even not a great start) there is something to build on and improve.

Steven King (the world-famous author of 50 plus bestsellers) believes the most important thing an author (or wannabe author) can do, is write every day. He writes 2,000 words every day, including Christmas day and his birthday. He said, sometimes the writing comes easy, and other days it’s hard and not great. But even on a bad day writing 2,000 words of rubbish, at least there is something to re-write later. The same principle applies to developing your skills and expertise as a tax planner – just make a start, and build from there.

The Beginning is the Most Important Part of the Work - Plato || Abstract GD Topic

Why is the beginning important?  
When you are constructing a building, the first thing is digging the foundation. Without a proper foundation, the building is immediately compromised, and everything built on top of a faulty foundation is also in trouble. The foundation, is the most important part of that work.

But you don’t just go out and construct a building, right? Before you put the first shovel in the ground, you have to have a plan. An architect, and as many other specialists as is necessary, determine where holes are to be made, and what materials need to be used, and how the foundation is to be dug and constructed.

But how does an architect know what materials to use? How do they know what will handle the stress or the weight or be able to carry the loads of the building? Experience, yes. But also they do research. They need to know about the materials in the building. They also need to do the research on the soil, and how strong it is.

So that was a lot about making a building. While you might not ever do anything that complex, even something like baking cookies has a beginning. Do you have all the ingredients? Or will you have to run out and get something part way through the process? Do you have a recipe? Lots of things could go wrong if you aren’t ready at the beginning.

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What Most People Do Wrong

Most people tend to delay starting anything, whether it is a business, hobby, diet, relationship, etc. Everyone seems to be afraid of change or the unknown.

If you’re wanting to start a business, you might think you have to read every book, take every course and get a master’s degree in business management first.

If you’re trying to lose weight, you might think you need to finish all the unhealthy food in your pantry first, read about all the diet choices, watch hundreds of workout videos on Youtube or go shopping for the perfect workout clothes first.

This is not the right way of thinking. Plato, Reid Hoffman and many others who have become successful know this. You just have to start because that is the hardest part.

Should you be educating yourself if you start a business? Yes. Should you be researching the effects of different foods on your body if you want to lose weight? Yes.

But, you do these things while going through the process after getting started. Many people spend too much time over-educating themselves without acting on what they learn.

Many people spend too much time getting ready to get ready or waiting for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. Perfection is impossible.

What Plato Would Tell You To Do

If Plato was here today, advising you, he would tell you to quit making excuses and start now. Until you start, no progress will be made. This reminds me of how professional athletes might say, “You miss every shot you don’t take.”

Massive action is the key to progress. You have to take it or you will stay in limbo the rest of your life, waiting to reach your goals. It’s hard to reach goals when you don’t do anything to reach them though, isn’t it?

Getting the ball rolling is the hardest part. Once you do that, you can build momentum through constant action, education and experience. Pretty soon you will have the “snowball effect”.

Action steps to take:


Toddlers don’t learn to walk by reading a manual, but by trying and correcting course along the way. If you want more in life, you have to go out there and take it.

When Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of the work,” he was telling us to just start laying that foundation now. You can build momentum after that.

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