The first step toward business, professional or personal improvement can be the hardest one. In talking with current and prospective clients over the years, the #1 obstacle is “I don’t have time.” Let’s set aside for a moment the possibility (and it’s a real one) that “no time” is code for “I don’t want to invest in myself right now but don’t want to tell you.” If there’s truly no good time, there may be no better time to take that first step into a new and better future.
Leadership author Stephen Covey says that planning, training, and professional development are Quadrant Two activities. They are important in that they increase production capacity and prevent costly crises. But they are not urgent – they aren’t going to be standing in front of you with a sign and shouting “Take care of me right now or else!” You have to choose to make room for them.
It might seem difficult to find a spot in your schedule that isn’t already given over to crises and other urgent activities. But let’s ask two questions to see whether it makes sense to dump something else out of your agenda – at least for now – on behalf of making improvements:
- What is your current state costing you? You might count this cost in dollars, in customer relationships, in management hassles, or in missed opportunities for growth and innovation.
- What are the consequences if your business (or you personally) continue on the same trajectory that you’re on right now? Are you headed in the “right” direction, or is there heartache and stomachache in store if you don’t change something?
You might be using the “no time” excuse because you don’t have gut-level confidence in a beneficial result. If that’s the case, consider these:
- If you don’t have enough information about the methodology, the coach, etc. maybe you check references and rely upon your centers of influence for recommendations on reliable resources.
- Often your questions about the resource and methodology are not as influential in your inertia as is your lack of confidence in yourself to affect change.
- Neither of the above might be as important as it is for you to take steps to prevent a worsening of the current state or the growth of an existing problem.
Have we taken away enough obstacles yet? What are you waiting for? Yes, you’re too busy. But now may be the very best time to start to create the future that you want.