Tattoos and Earrings for Leaders

August 27, 2012 — 2 Comments

Getting a tattoo is pretty much an irreversible act. So, you’d better think long and hard before you get one. When I see the millions of kids in Generation Y who now have one on their arm or leg or even face—I can only imagine what they’ll look like when those tattoos are sagging on a wrinkled eighty-year old body. The tattoo removal industry may be picking up in fifty years. But it will hurt.

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photo credit: malloreigh via photo pin cc

For leaders, some of your decisions are like tattoos. They are permanent. We must be careful to not make them too quickly or in a knee-jerk sort of fashion. Consider this thought. Because you are a leader, you are likely a person of action. That’s why you got asked to be a leader. You are a doer. I believe however that the world is full of two kinds of people: the doers and the thinkers. The thinkers need to do more and the doers need to think more. Which one are you?(click to tweet).

The good news is—just about every choice you make in your work doesn’t last forever. They are more like the decision to get an earring. You may pierce your ear, but you can always change out the earring or choose to not wear it. Seth Godin reminds us that in these cases the benefit of taking risks is significantly higher than it is with a tattoo. A landing page, a new class, a pricing move, selecting a mentor, a new project, writing copy for a promotional piece—they don’t last much more than a few months. High benefits, low risks…what are you waiting for?

So on most of your decisions, go ahead and act as if your decisions are temporary. Because they are. Be bold, make mistakes, learn a lesson and fix what doesn’t work. No sweat, no need to hyperventilate. But for those “tattoos” you get for your work, take the time to be sure you really want it.

How fast and how easy is it for you to make earring decisions? How about tattoos? How do you go about making decisions that are like “tattoos”?