I hope that everyone is doing well today. I am writing today’s post while sitting in my local coffee shop, trying to wake up with some strong coffee, watching the rush hour traffic flow by, and ruminating on a recent blog post from Seth Godin. The blog was titled “Duck!”, and was written about making hard decisions before you get hit in the face with the metaphorical 2 x 4. There was one line in Seth’s blog that really got me thinking: it takes a mature person or organization to plan ahead.
We have all spent our lives being inundated with advertising, public service announcements, magazine articles and well-wishers giving us advice about the importance of planning ahead. We are instructed that putting away money now will pay dividends in the (far off) future. From our earliest memories of nursery rhymes, where the third little pig spent more time, money and energy building his house of bricks against the unknown trials of the future, we have been taught that planning ahead is an important part of being successful.
It takes a certain level of maturity to realize that planning ahead for the unknown future is necessary for success. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people and organizations fail to make this investment. And while their reasons may seem to be legitimate: from lack of funds and sufficient time to lack of knowledge or perceived insight into what will be needed in the future, not investing in the future is sure to cause problems.
Proper planning is certain to pay dividends, and may lead to financial gains or simply an easier time dealing with the day to day intricacies of running your life or your organization. Lack of proper planning is also certain to lead to an outcome, but unfortunately that outcome cannot be termed a dividend. Poor planning can lead to financial difficulties for an individual or organization, often placing them in a difficult situation in their personal and/or professional relationships.
Every one of us has been in a situation (personally and professionally) where we realized, often once it was too late, that a small amount of sacrifice ahead of time would have made the present predicament a much less stressful situation. Unfortunately for us, humans are hard-headed creatures, and are often averse to learning lessons until we are hit in the face (repeatedly) with the metaphorical 2 x 4.
In today’s “always on/always connected society”, we all perceive ourselves as too busy to stop; too busy to slow down and examine our paths. However, the simple act of slowing down to examine that brick wall we are running headlong towards can pay countless dividends. Put aside a little money for a rainy day. Develop a (written) plan on how you will handle that difficult client that will inevitably come. Work out an outline for the direction you wish to take your company.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” A small break from the treadmill of your daily routine can provide some valuable insight, and may keep you from having to duck before you get hit again. That small break can be painful, but that 2 x 4… ouch!
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