It’s early on a Sunday morning and I am waking up with a coffee in hand taking in a wonderful sunrise. As my synapses slowly start to fire, (I am very slow to wake in the mornings) I remember that yesterday, I wrote a piece on the importance of being responsive and now find myself reflecting on the last point I made in that article.
“Business initiatives are all about motion and momentum. When you are unresponsive, you stall or stop that momentum.”
It occurs to me that there is a very important lesson I have learned about this dynamic that I should share with you … as soon as I am fully awake!
I have come to believe that there is no such thing as standing still. We are all moving forwards, or backwards. There is no middle ground. Whatever your endeavors may be, motion and momentum are essential to your success.
A few times in my career, I have waited far too long for someone to get back to me or to complete a task that was central to the business I was working on. In both instances, the combined lost opportunity costs were significant. How did this happen?
By nature, I am an empathetic and forgiving person. This serves me well in my relationships. People gravitate to me and trust me easily. Many of my friends and associates call me just for personal advice or because they know that I will happily lend them a non-judgmental ear.
In business however, I have had to learn to tone down this aspect of my personality. This has not been easy for me. It’s hard to fight your own nature. In both the cases I mentioned above, I made the mistake of being far too forgiving of delays. What I should have done was set a hard deadline. If that deadline was not met, I should have politely disengaged those individuals and found others to move forward with. Part of my hesitation in doing so was because we had so much momentum. As well, they were friends. To engage new resources would have been a big step backwards. A detour … I hate detours! The thing is, as bothersome as a detour might be, it is the only way around an obstacle and necessary if you want to get to your destination. Stated otherwise, it’s much better to take a few steps back in order to be able to move forward again.
In both instances, I ended up resenting my friends. Sure, they let me down, but, I enabled them to do so. That’s my part in it, my failure if you will. When I regained my objectivity and had the time to evaluate what happened, I was much angrier with myself than I was with them. I knew better. I no longer resent these people. After all, I am a forgiving person. They taught me a very valuable lesson. Let’s hope I was a good student.
If you find yourself in a position where you are waiting for others to complete tasks that are central to your progress, don’t wait too long. If they are friends, be aware that there is a delicate balance between business and friendship. Set a deadline and have an alternative course of action available to you. If you don’t, you might end up authoring an article … just like this one!
“Motion” and “Detour” from MS Word Clip Art Collection
Originally posted on August 16, 2009 at synaptici