The Might as Wells – Letting one thing lead to too many others.

I call it sequences, that annoying way of letting a simple task become far more complex. Even Murphy and his sagacious laws (If anything can go wrong it will, et al) has wryly observed that “You can’t do something until you do something else first.”

Sometimes, it is unavoidable…and true. You really can’t do some things until you do something else first and you might not have seen that other thing you need to do until you start doing the other thing.  (How’s that for a twisted sentence?) But sometimes we do it to ourselves.

I usually post a new article on The Practical Leader twice a week but haven’t for about ten days because I took time off to make some needed repairs on our house. With my wife out of town visiting family, it was a good time to tear things up.

Happily and prudently I had a detailed plan of what I needed to get done and made projections about how much time it would take and what materials I would need. But once I got into the project I discovered many opportunities to make the project larger and consequently more complex. I say “happily” because whenever we embark on a plan the “might as wells” pop up. As long as we’re doing this, we might as well do that.

It might be correct. Perhaps we might as well do something else along the way. Unexpected issues can arise that should be dealt with. But some should not. It takes real detachment to become a disengaged and unemotional observer to make the decisions.

  1. Make clear plans and have a focused vision of what you intend to accomplish, in what period of time. The power to focus is the power to excel and complete. Letting a job get out of hand is a sure recipe for disaster.
  2. Just because you can does not mean that you should. “Might as well” is NOT a good enough reason to add a job to the plan. Make sure added tasks are fully justified before taking them on.
  3. Even when you should doesn’t mean you should right now. Efficiency is always a good idea but effectiveness is more important. Stay focused on the objective.

Leaders have to remember that the temptations to veer off course, even if it can be rationalized and legitimized, are like the Siren’s song, luring those on a mission off course and into ruin.

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