Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Benjamin Franklin who was very successful in so many ways understood the importance of getting stuff done. Procrastination is a well-understood skill of most entrepreneurs. It’s also one that can really get you into hot water fast. There’s a lot of stuff that we, as entrepreneurs, tend to want to delay in doing. When we procrastinate management decisions, when we procrastinate things that maybe we as the leaders see as silly or stupid, what happens is our teams can start feeling like we don’t care, that maybe they better take it into their own hands. You have a constituency that you’re responsible for. Don’t let that constituency suffer because you’re delaying. Whatever our station is, be the best you can be and a big part of that is don’t delay.
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Get Stuff Done
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Something got on my mind and I wanted to cover it with you. There’s an old funny saying that’s credited to Mark Twain but also to Oscar Wilde. It says, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow.” In other words, don’t be in a big rush. If you could put something off, put it off. He’s saying that tongue-in-cheek. Procrastination is a well-understood skill of most entrepreneurs, also one that can really get you into hot water, fast.
I’ve been thinking a lot about it as I’ve thought about things I’ve procrastinated and also things that I’ve observed others procrastinated that created problems. Just to put the flip side on this, these guys, Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde, they were playing off of Benjamin Franklin who said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Benjamin Franklin, who was very successful in so many ways, understood the importance of getting stuff done. Don’t put it off, get it done.
All that happens if you put it off is it piles up. That’s not to say that there are things we should wait on, we should be judicious about, and we should save some time on. I’m talking about things that you know you need to get done. It’s just not the easiest thing. It’s not your favorite job. Entrepreneurs are usually big-picture, fast-moving, looking in the future. There’s a lot of stuff that we, as entrepreneurs, tend to want to delay in doing. We want to delay so that we get gratification from something that we enjoy more, making the sale, creating the art, the song, the script, the book. Going out and giving a great talk, going out doing something that gets you feeling those fun, positive strokes that we all live for, that we all love.
Sometimes the problem can get pretty hairy pretty fast. I’m aware of a situation that happened in the office recently where there was an irritant going on in the office. Somebody was doing things that were irritating the group. Nobody dealt with it, nobody talked about it. The attitude was, “Suck it up. Don’t listen. Don’t worry about it.” It was a little dumb, stupid thing, clicking a pen. You know the sound of that click. It’s not that in of itself is a big deal, but it got to the point where everybody else around this individual was going a little bit nuts. After weeks of nobody asking the person to get rid of the clicky pen and just use a Bic, to get something to twist instead of the clicks, nobody dealt with it.
Finally, on one Friday afternoon, one of the individuals in the office snapped, went back there, and tried to wrestle the pen out of the person’s hand. Nobody was hurt. No scratches, bruises, pushing or anything. There was a moment, a little altercation, brief as it might be. The pen got broken, by the way. That individual had to be terminated from their job, not the clicker, but the one who was fed up with the clicking. It had escalated from something that was a little stupid irritant into somebody losing their job and the whole office frustrated over the problem.
When we procrastinate management decisions, when we procrastinate things that maybe we, as the leaders, see as silly, stupid, immaterial, sophomoric, no big deal, get over it, suck it up, what happens is our teams can start feeling like, “We don’t care,” maybe they better take it into their own hands. “We don’t care,” and they can’t live like this. “We don’t care is the leader, so why should they care about getting all their work done? I need to go out and go for a walk before I explode.” Maybe you think I’m overblowing this but as a guy who’s employed hundreds and hundreds of people over the years, I’ll tell you that little things escalate into big things.
The fact that you don’t download your stuff and categorize it in QuickBooks, get your accounting and your bookkeeping stuff all figured out so it’s easy to hand it to your CPA, putting it off will delay your tax filings. I’m talking about corporate taxes of March to September, you’ve got an extension, you go into the next year, and now you’re way behind, you don’t remember what those things were. Now, you’ve got a legit problem. Before it was an irritant. Before it was something I didn’t want to do but now I have a real legitimate problem. Why? I put it off until it piled up with interesting fees and everything else. Now, I owe the government lots of money because I didn’t want to do my bookkeeping three years ago. Don’t let that be your modus operandi. Don’t let it be that way. Instead, look at the situations where you can maybe do the opposite.
We live on 25 acres. We’ve got dogs. Sometimes I’ll be way out in the middle of a field and I’ll see a baggie, a plastic Ziploc bag and it’s a big field. I could let that thing blow away or maybe it eventually will blow to my neighbors or blow out of sight but if I leave that stuff out there, that one little baggie over time will be other things. It’ll be stuff that’s gone out to the yard, it’s got blown around, and now I’ve got this trashy, messy, ugly field. Not only does it look bad, but maybe I’ll run a piece of equipment over something, it’ll mess up the piece of equipment and costs hundreds or thousands of dollars to fix. I guess I find a little tickle of pride when I walk out of my way and I go over and pick up the Ziploc bag, take it up to the house, and throw it into the garbage or the recycling depending on where it should go.
These little things, there’s a couple of dishes in the sink, pick them up and stick them in the dishwasher. There’s something big and funky in the sink, get the sponge and the soap and clean it, and put it away. Why? When you walk into your room, walk into the house, the kitchen, the living room or wherever, you feel more comfortable. What if somebody unexpectedly showed up? How would you like your place to look?
In our office building here, I often notice there’d be some part of a ripped piece of paper towel that will be on the floor in the men’s room. It’s not my paper towel. I don’t know what’s on the floor. I don’t know who touched it, but if one of my clients is coming in, do I want them to see trash on our bathroom floor? No. Pick it up, throw it away. Get your workspace organized. That pile of stuff on your desk, don’t let it sit there because you could have money sitting there. You don’t want to follow up on those business cards but maybe there’s sale in there, maybe there’s a great new affiliate, maybe there’s somebody who’s got the software that you’ve been looking for.
Maybe there’s somebody who wants to make an introduction to you or invite you to give a talk or who knows what. If you would just follow up instead of going, “That’s a whole stack of cards.” As business owners, as entrepreneurs, as someone striving to increase our place in the world, who wants to have more money, more freedom, more opportunity, we want to become unshackled. Part of the way you do that is by taking care of things. Get them done. Even if it’s going to take time, start doing it.
You don’t have to do the whole job in one day but if you delay because it’s too big, it’ll never get done. Whereas if you say, “This is going to be a big project. I’ll tell you what, I’m going to give an hour to it today. I’m going to spend twenty minutes on it today because I know that at least it I’ll start chipping away and maybe I’ll get into a zone. I’ll get onto a roll and I’ll start knocking stuff out really quick. It’ll be great.” Don’t let it turn into an interpersonal problem. Don’t let it turn into unpaid bills, late fees, interest fees and all kinds of stuff. Don’t let it turn into unfiled reports, unfiled taxes, unfinished projects and unfinished books.
Here’s a perfect example. This is the second podcast I’ve done. I took a couple of months off. Do you know why? I’d been in the habit of recording my podcasts and then things came along. I was traveling. It was difficult. I got out of the zone and it was super easy to not get back in the zone. It was super easy to delay, procrastinate, and put it off. Thank you to those of you who wrote to me and said, “We miss the podcast,” “We miss your insight,” “We miss the little crazy stories you tell,” because that’s what got me back on the horse. It’s awesome to have somebody to help keep you accountable. Sometimes though, it’s good for us to be accountable to ourselves.
What kind of person do you want to be? How do you want to be perceived? Do you want to be someone who is trusted to get stuff done or somebody that people would go, “I don’t know, maybe we don’t want to use that person because they have a tendency to over promise and under deliver?” Is that who you want to be? No. If you want to become an unshackled owner, if you want to start to live a big life, I promise you it will not happen unless you finish what you start.
You do a great job, you get it done timely, you look for ways of improving your surroundings, you look for ways of outperforming, dazzling and amazing those people that you work with. I don’t care if you’re self-employed, if you own a great big company or whatever, every one of us has a customer. Maybe that’s your employees, maybe that’s your wholesale clients, maybe that’s retail clients, maybe who knows what it is. You have a constituency that you’re responsible for. Don’t let that constituency suffer because you’re delaying. You have a responsibility, you have an opportunity and you have all the tools that you need to become wildly successful, to have all the free time in the world that you want.
I promise you, the most successful people I’ve ever met are the ones who will pick up the piece of paper on the bathroom floor and throw it away because they know that by making things a little tidier, a little more finished, a little more polished, they look better. Plus, they can’t stand it being there because that’s how they live their life. They do a great job, they do it fast, they do it timely, and they don’t leave little trash laying around. Let’s be the example, let’s be the person that we want to be. We want to be the friend, the parent, the spouse, the leader, the employee. Whatever our station is, be the best you can be and a big part of that is “don’t delay.”
If you want to become one of us, if you want to become an Unshackled Owner, if you’ve got employees, if you’ve got a business or if you’re starting out and you know you’re growing and you’re going to have revenue, you’re going to have different departments, you’re going to have people, then learn the lessons of the Unshackled Owner Intensive class and join me in that class. If you want to learn more about that, write to me, Aaron@AaronScottYoung.com. Either I or someone from my team will call you right back and talk to you about the Unshackled Owner class.
You’ll love it. It’s a phenomenal class. It will save you all kinds of blood, sweat, and tears in the growth of your business. Or if you’re deeply in your business, super successful but don’t feel like you have the time freedom that you want, I can show you how to look at your business as an asset so that you’re the chairman of the board rather than the president. You’re not the most critical employee, you’re the owner of an asset. That’s what being an Unshackled Owner is all about. There are so many big things coming up. Don’t put off your progress. Don’t put off your future. Don’t put off till tomorrow something that could be done today. That’s my lesson for you here on the Unshackled Owner Podcast.