I used to shoot trap…a lot of trap. For those of you unfamiliar with that particular activity here’s a brief explanation.
Trap shooting (or trapshooting in North America) is one of the three major disciplines of competitive clay pigeon shooting (shooting shotguns at clay targets). The other disciplines are skeet shooting and sporting clays.
It’s only my opinion but for me trapshooting was by far the easiest of the three disciplines. The more I practiced the better I became…and I practiced for hours a day. It was normal for me to shoot at least a case of shotgun shells a day.
I shot competitively all over the country and it wasn’t unusual to go a long time without a miss. A good shot was measured in the target being turned to dust less than a second after it appeared. Any other kind of hit was better than a miss but not by much.
One day I was invited to go trapshooting with my uncle and a few of his friends. They had never seen me shoot competitively but had heard I shot a lot of trap. So we got to the trap range and I was the 4th shooter out of five. We were on our third round of 25 targets when I finally broke a target into several bigger pieces. All the other targets were what a trap shooter would call “smoked.” I wasn’t even close to missing a shot.
My uncle and one of his friends suggested I was shooting too fast. I asked, “too fast for what?” They said you can’t keep hitting targets if you keep shooting that fast. We were shooting from 16 yards, the shortest distance on the trap range. It was almost inconceivable to me that I could miss from that distance.
I asked for their reasoning on why I should hold off on pulling the trigger once I had the target lined up. They said something about haste making waste to which I replied “he who hesitates misses the target.” In trap shooting by the way that’s exactly true. The longer it takes you to line up your shot the more likely it will be that you will miss. That’s true for a lot of reasons but one of the main reasons is the pellets in your shotgun shell are more spread out. That makes it easier for the target to fly right through them.
There are not many areas of life where hesitation pays dividends. That’s true in leadership as well. One of the five most common characteristics of weak leaders is that they hesitate. They wait for everything to be lined up perfectly before they are willing to pull the trigger. Many times they wait so long that they don’t pull the trigger at all.
That’s not leadership!
Authentic Leaders possess the courage to “take the shot” when necessary, even without everything being perfectly aligned. They take a risk to chase success knowing full well that they could wait forever for the perfect opportunity to arrive.
Authentic Leaders recognize windows of opportunities that lessor leaders fail to see. In fact, if Authentic Leaders don’t see an opportunity they create one. What they don’t do is hesitate.
What they also don’t do is mistake patience for procrastination. One could create a bigger window of opportunity while the other, procrastination, slams the window shut. The most successful leaders, really the most successful people, are careful when using their patience. They know all too well it can easily become procrastination and procrastination is frequently mistaken for hesitation.
The most effective Authentic Leaders do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Whether it be dealing with conflict, making a difficult decision, or trying something new they know that delay frequently leads to a missed opportunity.
Don’t wait for the perfect time to lead. Use the information you have today. Use the skills you have today. Use the resources you have today to take action today. The key to success is likely in your hands already, hesitating to use it only makes it less likely that you’ll use it at all.
Don’t miss your shot, be bold, don’t hesitate, Lead Today!
4 thoughts on “They Who Hesitate….Seldom Lead”
Great post and story. To me, procrastination is waiting for the perfect time, but patience is waiting for the best time. Or maybe the second-best time. You’ve heard the saying about the best time to plant a tree. The second-best time for anything is right now and that may be the best choice that remains.
Thanks again for the great post and reminder!
Thanks Mike, we have minor league baseball team in St. Paul MN. For years the beer vendors have worn t-shirts that say “Free Beer Tomorrow.” They wear them EVERY day and no one has EVER received a free beer. Which leads me to believe if it ain’t today then it just ain’t.
Ain’t that the truth! Thanks for the laugh.