The Cost of Doing Nothing

nothing2Have you ever heard the saying there is no such thing as a free lunch? I think it’s meant to convey the fact that nothing is really free. Every thing costs somebody something. Just because you didn’t pay for it doesn’t mean that someone else didn’t.

Well, I have some even worse news. Not only is nothing free, it turns out that even nothing costs something. Worse than that, nothing could be the most expensive thing you ever do. Or perhaps I should say, don’t do.

Let me explain. Suppose you’re a leader within an organization. You become aware of a problem, issue, concern or challenge that needs YOUR attention. This is a kind of messy problem and it is your “hope” that it would just go away. (tip: they never do)

You have an idea of what needs to be done but you’re just sort of stuck, you can’t make yourself do it. So you do nothing.

The problem gets worse. Often times you’re the last to know it’s gotten worse. That’s because the only way you can keep yourself from doing something is to ignore the problem. You become so good at ignoring the problem that you don’t even see it growing until it blows up in your face.

It’s then that you realize the true cost of doing nothing.

Almost all big problems started out as small problems. They are fertilized by no decisions and watered by no actions. They grow like weeds.

Some leaders grow problems but authentic leaders deal with them before they have the chance to grow. They know that the problem they don’t want to deal with today will only be bigger tomorrow.

If you’re in a leadership position, any level of leadership position, I can almost promise you there is some issue, problem or concern that you have been avoiding. It might be a personnel issue, a quality issue, a personal issue or some other business issue. Whatever it is, don’t let even one more day pass before you deal with it.

Failure to face our challenges results in real expense, it could be the loss of productivity, the loss of morale in your organization, lost business, or the loss of a key employee.

Whatever the cost of solving the problem in the short term, the cost of doing nothing is almost always higher. So have a good honest talk with yourself right now and commit to make that problem you’ve been avoiding go away once and for all.

11 thoughts on “The Cost of Doing Nothing

  1. William T. says:

    Politicians tend to do something, because something must be done, but do they do the right thing?

    So sometimes it is better to do nothing, because doing something might cost a whole lot more than doing nothing. Doing nothing can also equal to “doing the right thing”.

    • I’d much rather the people who work for me make a mistake ” by doing” than by not.

      Sorry to say this but anyone who believes REAL progress can be made by standing still and doing nothing is kidding themselves. At least we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, doing nothing provides us with just that …. Nothing!

      • William T. says:

        I didn’t make a claim that “real progress can be made by standing still and doing nothing”, I am just saying that sometimes the things that are done are done regardless of is it actually addressing the problem.

        You can probably find numerous examples where doing nothing would have resulted in a more favorable outcome.

        Making mistakes for the sake of doing something is a ridiculous argument. Progress is sometimes taking steps back in humanity. Waging wars, spying on people…would you call that real progress or would you consider those as mistakes from which we can learn from?

        How many wars should we wage and how many totalitarian surveillance governments should we have in order to learn?

        My point is: leave us alone and do it yourself – we don’t need “strong leaders” who make poor decisions from which we can “learn from”.

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