[March 2, 2019] One day upon discovering a cache of 1st Grade papers my mom had saved, I looked upon several marked papers with poor grades. My wife, who I had been telling that I never got good grades in school, saw them and remarked how amazed she was at my ‘terrible performance.’ The reason was that procrastination was simply my way of getting along in life.
That’s right, I procrastinated about anything that had to do with school; getting out of bed in the morning to get there on time, studying (really bad), doing assigned projects, and asking the teacher questions. My grades reflected my bad habit of putting things off as far into the future my mind could imagine. And I could imagine things not getting done because I didn’t want to do them.
There are several persistent stereotypes about American students. The most common is that they are lazy and like to sleep too much. But this is not so much a problem as it is a long-term habit that will eventually have profound implications later in their lives. Psychologists call this chronic procrastination.
“Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.” – Unknown
Bad habits are tough to break. Getting rid of bad leader habits is even harder because the first step is being able to “see” that something you’re doing is a problem.1 If a leader has the discipline to walk a path to leave their procrastination habits behind, there are a wealth of ways to do so. I wrote about it here (see link). And, I carried my 1st Grade procrastination habits with me for many years and suffered for it.
I still have some of my 1st Grade habits. I admit it. The difficulties I overcame would have been easier if I’d changed my ways early in life. Things would have been better if someone had sat me down and knocked some sense into my head. Like so many young folks, that didn’t happen.
There is a good lesson here for leaders. Leadership means being responsible for those in your care and for yourself. Recognize the signs of procrastination and be laser-focused on helping people overcome it.