This is one of my favorite clichés of all time because it highlights the power of proactive action.
The only problem with this cliché is that it is a little dated. I don’t know too many people who sew anymore, so the reference has lost some luster. The idea behind it, however, is more important than ever.
You could make a strong argument that it is safer to react than to proact. A reaction, by definition, is taking place after something has already happened. If something has already happened, it is a known matter so there is less risk that the action that you take will be deemed as unnecessary. Conversely, when you act before an event occurs or as it is occurring, but before the outcome is known, you run a higher risk of taking the wrong action or making the wrong decision.
A decision based on facts and certainties is always less risky than one that is made in preparation of something that may or may not occur, but you cannot ignore the power of timely action that prevents a disaster from happening, stops a crime from occurring, or prevents a war from escalating.
On a lesser scale, you are presented with opportunities to act or not act daily. Whether those opportunities involve decisions regarding home repair, your job, or your family; you are faced with a choice as to whether you should do something, say something, or gather more information. You will be in the best position to make a good decision if you have taken advantage of previous opportunities to gain insight, observe conditions, and take note of the outcomes.
Sound and consistent decision making takes practice and that is especially true for proactive decision making. Through that practice, you will learn not to be paralyzed by a fear of making the wrong choice. You will learn what strong decision makers already know and that is that they are not any better at predicting the future than anyone else, they are simply the best at determining what to do with the information and circumstances they have in front of them.
Now, I just have to come up with a more relevant cliché to relate to today’s society and future proactive decision makers. A tap of an app saves the need for a map? A minute of Googling saves hours of doodling? This may take more time than I thought.
By Scott Arney, Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union.
This article is part of Arney's new series, entitled A New Use for an Old Cliché.
This installment is part of Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.