How Teddy Roosevelt’s Hard Head Broke My Hand

Theodore Roosevelt.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

Midnight approaches and I am stuck in a small room listening to L’estasi dell’oro (The Ecstasy of Gold) from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) and though listening to this makes me feel like I should be out riding my horse I am instead here at the computer.

Teddy Roosevelt, Business and Decisions

I’ll confess now that there is no connection between Roosevelt’s head and my hand other than I am bored by most headlines and try to mix things up a bit here and there.

What I can assure you of is this is not just some silly post where I talk about beating someone up with processed meat or write about killing a man with a butter knife.


Because if you are going to do a proper job you need to use the right tool and a butter knife isn’t the proper tool. Do you know how much force it takes to shove a butter knife between a person’s ribs?

Actually you wouldn’t shove it between the ribs, you’d want to handle things quite differently but this post isn’t designed to teach you how to kill and or murder so all you crazy pacifists can relax.

No, we want to talk about the importance of taking action and not allowing yourself to suffer from paralysis of analysis. We want to focus on the willingness to take action and why Roosevelt’s quote makes sense.

Look Before You Leap But Don’t Fear Jumping

Some years ago I worked for a small start up that was desperately trying to increase its market share, build its brand and convince potential investors that it would be a mistake not to bet on us.

It was obvious to all of us that we had an opportunity to create something special and also obvious that ownership was split about what needed to happen for us to make the leap from where we were to that mythical next level people like to refer to,

What I remember most vividly is how it felt like we were standing on a cliff overlooking the water and while everyone around us jumped we stood frozen in fear of what might happen.

When I asked what we were doing I was told we were holding firm because it was important not to make any mistakes and then I was encouraged not to ask any more questions.

That might have been the moment where I saw the value/importance of working for people who valued dissent, but I am not really sure. What I am certain of is that the company screwed itself because fear of what could happen prevented it from jumping into the water.

Maybe if I had owned the company I might have felt differently, but I tend to doubt it. I would rather take action and fail than fall down because I did nothing at all.

Action Doesn’t Mean There Is No Plan

I am not advocating that you should never act without thinking in your personal or professional life. There is some truth to saying that if you fail to plan you plan to fail.

But there is also truth to saying that you can’t plan for everything and that sometimes the best thing you can do is remember Newton’s law about an object in motion.

Or maybe it is better to say business is constantly fighting inertia. We do things a certain way and unless it is obvious that another way is superior we often ignore change because it is easier to go about our business.

I know you didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you some of this has everything to do with me. I can only sit on my hands for so long before I feel the need to push harder. Call it part of a motivational process or call it a burning need to try to build something bigger and more secure.

But enough about me, let’s talk about you and or your business.

Unless you have cornered the market you are probably in a position where this is heavy competition and that alone is a big part of why you need to be willing to take action because every moment you sit on your hands is one more moment your competition has to secure more market share.

What Do You Think?

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