Could’ve, Should’ve, Would’ve

September 15, 2016By Behind the Shelf Blog

by Dave Wendland

When was the last time you chastised yourself by thinking, “if only I had taken action at the time I thought of it.” You know, like the time you had a revolutionary idea that would have changed the face of the industry only to find that within months following your epiphany, some other organization had launched your very idea.

There is a theory I have heard suggesting that procrastination is actually a good thing. It suggests that this final pause allows one more opportunity to sit back and reflect before taking the first step and that it will likely foster a better outcome absent of second thoughts. Although I agree – and have written about in the past – the “sleep on it test” (first introduced to me by Dave Hamacher, the founder of the original D.P. Hamacher organization in 1980) can be a terrific way of confirming a decision before jumping in. However, with the pace of today’s business and constant threat from aggressive competitors, don’t take too long of a nap before making that decision.

We are likely all familiar with the expression, “If you snooze, you lose.” It refers to the loss that often results in the “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” moment. I can recall numerousortunities to slip away because of indecisiveness or too long of a pause instances where I have allowed opportunities to slip away because of indecisiveness or too long of a pause. Likewise, I have countless examples where I may have bullheadedly moved forward on an idea before it was entirely thought through or ready for prime time.

Reflecting on all the opportunities throughout my career – those I acted on prematurely, those I waited a bit too long to act on, and those that were wildly successful – I have no regrets. We need to experience each of these circumstances to achieve our full potential. It is impossible for all ideas to be successful. In fact, it is often through trial and error that the best ideas emerge (just ask Albert Einstein!).

The key to success is to minimize could’ve, should’ve, would’ve moments, and keep experimenting with a sense of controlled urgency.