Today I saw something that made me laugh and shake my head in incredulous wonder.

I had just driven my youngest daughter to her football camp and as I pulled out onto the road, I spotted these two guys cutting back the vegetation that had grown too dense alongside the cycle path. They were obviously working for the municipality, I recognized their bright orange overalls with the name of our county displayed in large black letters on their backs.

What brought a grin to my face, moments after having passed them, was the way in which they were working. You see, they had this system where one guy would cut the branches with his mini chainsaw and the other guy would collect these and then feed them into a portable shredder attached to the back of their vehicle. All fine really, except for the way the shredded wood chips would come blasting out from the top funnel, which was placed just too far away from the collection container to be in any way collecting the chips. Subsequently, they were spraying their pick up truck with sticky, resin-coated sludge from the top down to the wheel rims. The fixed, orange emergency light rack was no longer recognizable.

The false economy of laziness

It was stupidity in motion to say the least. And they had been at it for a while, which I could also tell from not only the way the poor vehicle looked, but from the multiple imprints of a car having been parked under a torrent of wood chips in several spots further up the cycle path.

Was this consequence unknown to them? Hardly.

Did they in some way plan it this way? Possibly.

It could be as simple as laziness. Perhaps they had calculated that it would be far easier and less work-intensive to a) brush the chips to the sides of the pathway, and b) hose down the truck afterwards. By letting 99% of the shredded material land on and around the truck, maybe they were saved from having to drive to some far away collection point for wood chips, to sign forms etc.

Or perhaps they just didn’t care. Either way, it made my morning to say the least. And more so because I knew they were wrong. That sticky resin was going to need much more than a quick hose-down to come off, something their manager would remind them of, no doubt.

The importance of goal setting

Why am I telling you this story you might wonder?

Well, it reminded me of a major way in which we can manage to wreck our start-up businesses, which is through sheer laziness and by taking our eyes off our goals. If you let your mind stay in neutral too long, it has a way of doing something anyway. It doesn’t just remain in neutral: it drifts and does something that is quite possibly detrimental to the future of your business.

I remember specifically how my mind switched off for a couple of weeks after completing my e-book. This was due to having been working so hard on writing it for months. I nearly abandoned my plan right there as I was parked between completion and the next step — marketing it on Clickbank and Amazon. What brought me back on track was my set of goals, which were written down on my laptop.

Stick to your goals or lose your lead

I know it is near impossible to constantly stay focused and sharp on where your business is heading. There’s always going to be a time lag between when you started something and when it is up and running in the direction you want. It is this time lag that needs controlling from your behalf, and the best way to do this is by having your goals written down — everything from daily tasks to weekly, monthly and yearly goals. In a way, these are like the rails that you laid and that you are now following to reach what you have set out to achieve.

So as such, we more often than not do ‘stupid’ things with our minds in neutral: we forget our kids’ lunch, we get locked out of our house, we step out into the road without looking, we sell stocks for emotional reasons rather than from researched reason, and we give up on promising projects out of laziness and lack of resolve.

Here’s to staying sharp and focused in the months ahead!

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Featured photo credit: CAIRO, EGYPT - NOV 22-Thousands of protesters flocked to Cairo's Tahrir Square, Egypt, Nov 22, 2011. People were dead and injured because of tear gas, rubber bullets of riot police.via Shutterstock

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