As a leader we are expected to be decisive and to advance toward the envisioned goals.
So why do we find ourselves making excuses to postpone a meeting or delay an action? We sometimes rationalize deferring a task by convincing ourselves it would be better done later – based on perceived factors not directly related to achieving goals.
For example, we are introduced to a person Friday afternoon who will provide referrals of people who are prospective clients for our services. We suggest a follow-up meeting for mid-week, but know from experience that many people leave Monday morning open. Why not suggest getting together first thing on Monday and have 4 ½ days to use for prospecting instead of just 2 ½ days from a mid-week appointment?
As a CEO, my sales team spent considerable effort to persuade me against submitting a proposal for a project because the client was too tiny and the local organizations probably had a lock on the project. No sale – we submitted the proposal and won the project. The team was presupposing conditions that did not prove out.
In the War of Art, author Pressfield identifies how individuals create internal roadblocks to taking positive action to meet goals and offers advice about overcoming these barriers. The section on Resistance and Rationalization speaks to the seemingly rational argument for deferring action based on a presumed view of circumstances, as illustrated above. He suggests breaking the spell by relying on facts instead of opinions and suppositions about a situation.
Parkinson said Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion – strong support for building momentum and keeping it. Does going off track really provide anything positive – or simply grind down the velocity of the forward progress. Seems like the latter to me – additional time does not translate to productive time.
As a leader we are aware that the stakeholders are observing us to learn about the real culture of the organization. It is better to take action now rather than later – when possible, and to plan outcomes based on facts instead of presumptions.
Do it now. Finish it promptly. Ship often. Ignore Surface Thinkers.
Keep the conversation going – What are your thoughts?
Unlike in my college days, I’ve come to have a strong disdain for procrastination. I’d rather just do it now than have to have it in the back of my mind for days on end. I think it decreases stress on everyone. There are, obviously, situations where postponement is necessary. It’s better to be prepared and do it right later than do it incorrectly earlier. I think that we overestimate how much time a project will take, though, because we’d rather be doing something else. I’m still guilty of this all the time of course, but I’m no longer waking up at 4 AM to complete an assignment!
I’ll write something nice to go with this post. Maybe tomorrow. I’m just not sure anyone will read it. It’s almost the Friday of a four day work week. People will probably take the day off tomorrow so they can enjoy another nice long weekend. Besides… There’s a 30% chance of snow tonight with rain in the forecast over the weekend. Tomorrow is the last day of sunshine for almost three days. Ah… I’ll get to it next week.
One of The Four Agreements is applicable here: Don’t make assumptions.
Love Parkinson’s Law – refer to it often.