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I Should Have Listened to My Wife: A Story About Procrastination

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“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” – Arnold Glasow

I used to be a procrastinator, keeping a low sense of urgency towards most issues until they became actual problems. That is, until I learned how little decisions tend to add up.

I recall having a leaky faucet in the bath tub of my old house. Little drips of water would constantly trickle from the hot and cold water knobs. My wife asked me (more than a few times) to fix the leak. But, since it was such a small drip, I always told her I would get to it later.

When a separate plumbing issue led us to replace the shower drain and tub, I discovered that those little drops of water had actually been rotting out the floor under the tub.

I was fortunate that the rotten wood had not broken already. I don’t think my wife would have ever let me forget the time my procrastination caused the bathtub to fall through the ceiling (possibly with one of us along for the ride).

It’s no coincidence that big problems are often preceded by minor problems. As a leader, your success often depends heavily on your ability to recognize and take action on smaller issues before they become crisis situations. It only takes a spark to start a forest fire.

I delayed fixing my leak because I dismissed the problem as inconsequential, and I thought it would take too long to fix the problem. That decision had the potential for disastrous consequences.

Are there any small issues in your office? Are you dismissing any issues that could be harmful to your company? Your leadership opportunity is here today. Choose your decisions wisely.

Always remember, Leadership is a Lifestyle.

– Ryan W. Hirsch
Program Manager, NASBA Center for the Public Trust