The 60-Second Consultant

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Plunge Into Frigid Water

By Timothy Bentley

24 April 2018

In a flash, I made a decision worthy of regret.

My boat was tied securely, except at the bow. To fix that, I needed to attach a line already tied to the dock, to the front of the boat. Problem was, the wind was pushing it away from the dock.

Two options presented themselves.

The safest would be to climb on board, get the boat hook (a long pole with a hook at the end), and use it to grab the line from the dock. Then slowly pull the boat toward the dock until I could tie the line to the boat. That would take a couple of minutes.

The quick and easy solution would be just to lean out from the dock and tie the line to the boat.

So, acting on impulse (certainly not rationality), that’s what I chose.

As I was tying the line, the wind began to blow the boat away. Predictably. 

With my feet on the dock and my hands on the boat, I was soon suspended horizontally above the cold springtime water.

A moment later, I was in it.

Sputtering, I swam for a ladder and laboriously hauled myself out. With wet clothing, I weighed a lot more than normal.

I shivered as I towelled myself off and put on dry clothing. Oh yes, I still had to tie the boat up. Later I had to dry out my hat, clothes, shoes, wallet, money, and everything else in my pockets.

That adventure cost me much more time – and loads more discomfort – than if I’d chosen the safe way in the first place.

Shortcuts anyone?

Taking the quick and easy way is always appealing, but how good are we at counting the potential cost if it fails?

For instance, do you sometimes ignore the vital but time-consuming jobs on your desk, in favor of shortcuts and quick fixes?

Do you ever delay the difficult talk you need to have with an employee or supplier, in favor of easy conversations with people who are more simpatico?

Do you stay stuck at your desk, when you really need to walk around?

Whatever your answers, here’s my wish. May your choices never drop you into (metaphorically) frigid water, as mine did.

Timothy Bentley is Chief Operating Officer of Panoramic Feedback