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Monday, January 16, 2012

Quit Presupposing And Just Do It!

As a leader we are expected to be decisive and to advance toward the envisioned goals.

So why do we find ourselves making excuses to postpone a meeting or delay an action? We sometimes rationalize deferring a task by convincing ourselves it would be better done later – based on perceived factors not directly related to achieving goals.

For example, we are introduced to a person Friday afternoon who will provide referrals of people who are prospective clients for our services. We suggest a follow-up meeting for mid-week, but know from experience that many people leave Monday morning open. Why not suggest getting together first thing on Monday and have 4 ½ days to use for prospecting instead of just 2 ½ days from a mid-week appointment?

As a CEO, my sales team spent considerable effort to persuade me against submitting a proposal for a project because the client was too tiny and the local organizations probably had a lock on the project. No sale - we submitted the proposal and won the project. The team was presupposing conditions that did not prove out.

In the War of Art, author Pressfield identifies how individuals create internal roadblocks to taking positive action to meet goals and offers advice about overcoming these barriers. The section on Resistance and Rationalization speaks to the seemingly rational argument for deferring action based on a presumed view of circumstances, as illustrated above. He suggests breaking the spell by relying on facts instead of opinions and suppositions about a situation.

Parkinson said Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion – strong support for building momentum and keeping it. Does going off track really provide anything positive – or simply grind down the velocity of the forward progress. Seems like the latter to me – additional time does not translate to productive time.

As a leader we are aware that the stakeholders are observing us to learn about the real culture of the organization. It is better to take action now rather than later - when possible, and to plan outcomes based on facts instead of presumptions.

Do it now. Finish it promptly. Ship often. Ignore Surface Thinkers.

Keep the conversation going – What are your thoughts?


Thoughthebrowser said...

“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Mark Twain

Carol Covin said...

I learned early in sales that I was not a mind reader. Sometimes I had to stop sales people I was paired with when they started apologizing, in front of the customer, for all the things our product was not. I had learned that most of the time potential customers didn't care about what it wasn't. They already knew that. They needed to know if it would work in their environment, which it usually would.

Unknown said...


Mark Twain was a brilliant social scientist.

His comment is exactly what Quit Presupposing is about.


Unknown said...


Your personal experience shows how bright people can sabotage their own efforts.

Imagine a used car sales person who points out the flaws instead of the features of the clunkers on the lot.

Too many people do not focus on how they are their own most effective competition by making up 'facts' instead of separating what they know from what they do not know.

Thanks for your comment.