If You Should Have Done it Then, Do It Now

I really like this:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

As you can tell from the illustration here, that’s an African proverb, and I got it from Jim Connolly on twitter, and he got it from Paul Sherwen, also on Twitter.

(Aside: this is another illustration of why I like Twitter and how I use it – as a window to what some people I respect are saying, writing, and suggesting.)

There’s a clear business lesson here. How often do you not do something today because you should have done it long ago? I do that more often than I want to admit. I think most of us do.

A smart young former student of my entrepreneurship class, looking for a new job, didn’t take up social media a year ago because he didn’t want to look like a beginner. But that was a year ago and he still hasn’t. But if he’d started then, he wouldn’t look like a beginner now.

I did the same damn thing with blogging. When I first really thought about blogging it was already 2005 and I kicked myself for not having started in about 2001. So net result was I didn’t start blogging. On the other hand, at least I finally did start in 2007, which means I now have four years of it, and 1,232 posts published (counting this one).

Don’t not do it now because you should have done it sooner. Right?


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  • Doug Rice says:

    Tim, excellent observation. I just read “Poke the Box” by Seth Godin which is in the same vein as this post. I think, as Seth suggests, we often fail to start projects because we are waiting for permission from someone else. We want to make sure it’s “okay” to start so
    something before we take initiative. Most of us I think are followers by default and taking leadership is a conscious decision. That’s wha being an entrepreneur is all about, though: giving yourself permission or, as Seth says, “picking yourself.” Thanks for the thoughts, Tim.

  • Gaynelle Jackson says:

    Great quote. I added this comment to my Linkedin site:

    “If You Should Have Done it Then, Do It Now.” That’s the title of today’s edition of Tim Berry’s blog ( http://lnkd.in/5CvbHF ). It references an African proverb that says “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

    For those of us that have been know to procrastinate, it takes the old saying “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” and expands it to include “do today what you should have done yesterday.” I am going to see if I can start walking this talk.

  • Kathy Ver Eecke says:

    Tim: What a great quote!

    There are so many things that I look at that way; not the least of which was making a career change. I worked in marketing, launching companies and brands, for almost twenty years. But I always wanted to be a writer. The farther I got into my career, and the more successful I became, the sillier it sounded to me to make a switch.

    The best time to start a career as a writer is right out of college. The second best time is now. 🙂

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