Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

It took my son’s birth and being stripped of all my free time to learn a valuable business principle.

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Time is weird. It’s our most precious resource, which many of us are acutely aware of. Still, it’s easy to disregard its significance as we drain time while thoughtlessly scrolling our timelines or binge-watching season two’s and episode three’s. 

Some wasteful activities are more evident than others, though, which is where the subject becomes complicated. As a reasonably productive guy, I’ve always been mindful of my screen time, but you won’t find a Pomodoro timer on my taskbar because life is about balance. I knew there were opportunities to manage my time better, but to what extent?

Then I became a father, and shit changed expeditiously.

Not only did my free time dwindle, but the concept took on new meaning. Eight to ten uninterrupted hours allocated to my business had suddenly evaporated, leaving only a few droplets of relatively free time sprinkled throughout the day.

Determining what tasks should fill the small windows of time would be crucial if I hoped to maintain the service standards and existing client agreements. Admittedly, things didn’t have to be this way. I planned to make a full-time hire when I reached a specific financial milestone. When the milestone arrived, I thanked God, kept my head down, and continued to work. After all, I had the time to do everything myself. The idea of paying someone else seemed unnecessary.

 

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

 

The idea of valuing time over money seems like a luxury and is inconceivable if you have ever struggled to make ends meet. Even after building a comfortable lifestyle and being well aware that it would now take extra hands to scale, I continued to work in the business because I had the time to. No milestone could persuade me and, seemingly, no financial achievement, either. The lesson would require an event of greater significance— my son’s birth and the total forfeiture of free time. 

Since becoming a father, I have hired a talented developer. He has introduced a robust technology stack capable of powering a dashboard I had conceptualized throughout the year. Now, I can achieve eight-hours worth of productivity in a fraction of the time and a single hire stands in the way of completely removing myself from the day-to-day operations. 

I can only imagine what I would have done with the additional time had I acted sooner. Perhaps, create consistent content to increase my reach or outline a roadmap for the next few years of business. Probably all of the above. Frankly, I was too busy being busy. However, I learned an invaluable life lesson that will forever stick with me:

Good leadership acts when there’s a need. Great leadership anticipates needs and acts before there is a disturbance.

We often stand in the way of tremendous success by waiting for the perfect time to take charge. The moment we’re no longer anxious about a decision and can face all possible outcomes without losing a night’s sleep. Only after we are burdened so much by inaction will we feel compelled to take action. That is when the change is long overdue.

We have to do better. While the stakes are low, and the cost of a blunder isn’t catastrophic. Rather than being forced to act, try to take charge while the tension between readiness and necessity exists. As uncomfortable as that sounds, it’s the barrier to being a great leader. Let’s go and be great.

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