shovelWhat tells you when it’s time to stop digging?

That repentance is necessary for salvation is hardly a principle confined to Christianity. It’s really as simple as saying that if you’ve dug yourself into a hole, you need to:

  1. realize you’re in a hole, and
  2. stop digging, and
  3. become open to solutions (aka, a way out)

And until you do, you won’t have much hope of getting out of that hole. Obviously, the sooner you recognize the hole, the easier the process is. Just as obviously, this applies to businesses as well as individuals.

In fact, a lot of hole-digging in business involves maximizing short term profit at the expense of long-term reputation, customer satisfaction, product improvement, etc. Mostly because profitability is fervently measured while the long term things often don’t even have indicators, let alone measurements. This means most companies don’t realize they’ve dug themselves into a hole until a crisis hits.

So what are your early indicators for these “soft” or long-term factors? Have you bothered to set any up, or are crises going to be the only indicator that the hole you’re in is higher than your arms can reach?


Are you demanding a state of grace, or are you willing to take people as they are?

One of the few things I don’t like about Getting Things Done is the “state of grace” factor.  Meaning you have to start your system from a point at which everything is accounted for on a slip of paper in your in-box. You have to take 1-2 days out of your life to get yourself to the starting point.

I think that’s one reason there are far more variants of GTD and people using modified GTD systems than there are actual GTD practitioners. People like the system, but most can’t start from that all-too-hard-to-achieve state of grace.

Similarly, businesses that are willing to take people as they are generally do a whole lot better than businesses that force customers to have gotten their ducks in a row beforehand. People want solutions, not an “I told you so.” Think of the difference between a normal university and most online universities. They’ll always be a Harvard, but I think a lot of 3rd Tier Colleges and Universities are about to get crunched as more and more people opt for educational alternatives that will take them where they are.

What about your business?  Are you willing to meet people where they are – to save them from their past stupidity if needed – or are you demanding customers enter your doors in a state of grace?


An apology without a “Mea Culpa” isn’t a real apology.

I know that with businesses there are sometimes legal issues with admitting you did something wrong, but frankly, more companies wimp out of making a real apology from fear than they do from actual legal constraints.

What they end up with is a psuedo-apology where they kind of sorta say they’re going to do better without specifically admitting or addressing what they did wrong. But an insincere apology is worse than no apology.

If you’re making a statement about a mishap that’s your fault, you should say that it’s your fault, specifically and directly.  Don’t hedge, don’t be vague, and don’t try to spin it while you’re apologizing.


The object of giving something up is to gain something else

Christians fast and make sacrifices during Lent  — i.e., they give up temporal, worldly pleasures and activities — so as to better concentrate their minds on the eternal and the spiritual. It’s not just about giving something up, it’s about eliminating some things to focus more on others.

This is a recognition that you can’t just add and add and add without having things get crowded out of the picture – usually the wrong things, the most important things.

While we all tend to endlessly add To-Dos to our list, there’s only so much time in the day. How many of us actively focus on a Stop Doing list? The idea is to replace less effective and efficient strategies and practices with more effective ones.  So shouldn’t we have as many “Stop Doing” items as “Start Doings”?

What’s on your “Stop Doing” list?


  1. Getting Things Undone on 02.24.2010

    […] recently read a thought-provoking post by Jeff Sexton, a copywriting blogger, called Lenten Thoughts on Ash Wednesday. (Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, and it was last week.) He mentions the popular […]