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Creating Successful Leaders

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

Chinese proverb

What have you been meaning to do that you’ve put off?

Think about that question for a minute. I’ll wait.

You might have multiple things you’re putting off.

You might even want to make a list…

Have you thought of a thing (or seven) you’ve been putting off? Why do you suppose you haven’t acted? What’s holding you back?

It’s human nature to put off what is uncomfortable or potentially difficult. Why have a tough conversation if you don’t have to? Why clean the attic if you can ignore it? Why start writing your memoir when you could be spending the evening relaxing on the couch?

We also tend to put things off that seem low-priority. Cleaning the desk in my office? I can put it off. Joining the gym? That can wait until next month.

Another reason we might put something off is if we think it will eventually take care of itself. If you meant to apologize to a friend for missing her party, you might put it off and put it off until…everyone has forgotten about it, right?

Another example: If you’re part of a team at work and you don’t feel like tackling a certain aspect of your project, you could put if off until someone else caves and does it for you.

As you’ve read through all these scenarios, you may have noticed something they have in common:

They are all problematic or potentially problematic.

If we put off a difficult conversation, the current situation might continue to get worse.

If we continue to delay working on a special project, that project will never be completed.

If we fail to clean the work desk, items will inevitably continue piling up until we can’t find anything, we feel completely scattered, and we lose valuable time and productivity searching for items we need.

If we don’t apologize for a past wrong, we risk creating a misunderstanding or losing a friend. Plus, it’s an opportunity to clear the air and acknowledge the mistake.

If we delay acting because we think someone else will eventually cover for us, that’s a recipe for creating grudges! Others will view you in a poor light and think you’re lazy or irresponsible when, really, you might have averted the crisis by expressing your discomfort with the task and requesting a new assignment.

Even though acting NOW might be uncomfortable or inconvenient sometimes, it is almost always worth it. If you’re putting something off, take a step back and ask yourself WHY. What barriers do you perceive? What’s holding you back? If you’re worried about the outcome of a particularly tricky task/conversation/action, that’s okay. It’s normal to delay action in the face of worry. But you’re stronger than that. It’s time to break through the barriers that are holding you back and ACT.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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