Avoiding a Disaster

Have you ever sent out an email and, as soon as you hit send, you knew you shouldn’t have done it?

How about saying something that you wish you hadn’t said?

What’s really frustrating is when you do or say something you regret and you know if you had just paused to consider it before you had done it, you could have saved yourself and others a great deal of grief.

Leadership consultant John Maxwell has a grid which he uses to point to the consequences of errant timing:

  1. The wrong Action at the wrong Time = Disaster
  2. The wrong Action at the right Time = Mistake
  3. The right Action at the wrong Time = Resistance
  4. The right Action at the right Time = Success

If you look at the four options, the first – wrong action/wrong time – is the one that you want to avoid. Mistakes you recover from with an apology, humility and a quick change of direction. Resistance you overcome with persistence and patience. If your action is right and the time was wrong, you can overcome it with a fresh presentation at another time. Right actions will win out. Of course, we all prefer success the first time.

It’s the disaster that we are looking to avoid. My experience is the disastrous result comes when someone does the wrong action at the wrong time out of frustration, anger, helplessness or selfishness.

We all know what those feel like. We all know when they are influencing us. The wise action is to move into a “standby” mode when we feel them. The chances are that our actions will be wrong. And, if it’s the wrong time, it will be a disaster.



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Posted in: Communication, Strategy

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