My book, Humanity at Work: Encouraging Spirit, Achievement and Truth to Flourish in the Workplace (Chapel Hill Press 2008) contains the following passage,
“Last week I was having lunch with two of my favorite girls, my wife Jean and my granddaughter, Isabelle. As we ate, Isabelle looked up through the picture window in our kitchen and noticed a large hawk in an oak tree not thirty feet from where we sat. Shortly after she announced his presence we noticed a squirrel jumping from tree to tree behind the large oak. The squirrel was so preoccupied with his aerial commute he did not notice the hawk, even as he jumped onto the end of the branch bearing the predator.
The supercharged rodent then proceeded to run full speed across the lengthy bough right at the winged hunter. About halfway toward the unintended encounter, the squirrel looked up and realized who else was on that limb! As the squirrel did all in his power to halt his forward progress, the hawk majestically turned his head to fix his gaze upon the feckless creature. At that moment I recalled a piece of advice I had received from a dear friend: ‘Spend your last dollar on your last day,’ he advised. ‘Timing is everything!’”
When you dig into many stories, at the heart of the lesson learned is timing. Did you recently read about the seven government employees who won the New York state lottery and will split the $319 million? There are two really interesting aspects to this story. First there were typically twelve co-workers who split the cost of the lottery ticket. But that fateful week five individuals choose not to take part. Then when the designated purchaser went to buy a lottery ticket he paused at the store counter to also buy a candy bar. As he did so another person stepped in front of him to purchase a ( losing) lottery ticket leaving the winning ticket for the guy with a sweet tooth and his soon to be rich partners!
My dad often said, “He who hesitates is lost.” I always took that to mean that we needed to be action oriented. But I have come to realize that the more appropriately interpretation is that we need to get on with making decisions even if the decision is to take no action at all. Not taking action is often looked at as a symptom of indecision but that is not so when a lack of action is based on an informed choice. But just to be on the safe side. Never pass up the chance to chip in on a lottery ticket.