Overcome the Tendency to Be Lazy

Fran-EmailOne of the things I believe is that we, as people, have a tendency to be lazy. We tend to avoid things as much as we can, and to look for the easy way out when we finally acknowledge a problem. It takes conscious effort to take proactive action and form a habit of being active with difficult situations.

Most of us are slow to make decisions. In business, when we have a great idea and we try something, we don’t want to admit when it isn’t working, that it’s a failure. If it was our brilliant idea, we are so desperate to see it succeed and afraid of the consequences of failure, that we deny reality. We usually don’t change until things have moved far beyond the point when we should have changed.

Last week I talked about how important it is to stick with something, to overcome the obstacles to get the job done. And it is very important to not let a setback discourage you and lead you to give up. But the flip side of that is that we all go down the wrong path sometimes, a path that doesn’t work and has no way to work. I think about the famous story of Thomas Edison’s creation of the light bulb. He tried 10,000 different combinations before he stumbled onto the solution. Whenever he tried something and he saw that it wasn’t going to work, he acknowledged that that was not the answer and moved on to the next idea. But at the same time, no matter how many tries it took him, he kept going until he found a way to make a light bulb. As he said about all the steps along the way, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I think that story demonstrates both sides of what I’ve been thinking about. We have to acknowledge reality. When something really doesn’t work, we can’t keep trying to make it work. Bad news does not get better with age. But just because a particular strategy fails does not mean we should give up on the larger goal. We shouldn’t get discouraged into giving up, we just have to find another way, one that will work.

So many decisions in my life I didn’t take action as soon as I should have. We so often let things run farther than they should. Whether it’s habits we have, judgments on things we’re doing, or relationships with people in our lives, we have things in our life that are not working, or have even become toxic, and it’s important to take action to change that.

Don’t just keep doing something for its own sake. Do it because it is meaningful and effective. Keep your eyes on the goal, but don’t be afraid to acknowledge mistakes. Sometimes we go sideways, and sometimes we even go backwards, but if we keep moving and don’t stand still, we will eventually get to where we want to go.

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