Being a “low-maintenance” kind of guy, I wear my hair – or what’s left of it – short.  I tell the barber “2 on the sides, 3 on top, no sideburns, and block the back”.  So haircuts are a pretty simple affair.  I have no doubt that a skilled barber could cut my hair in about 2 minutes and 16 seconds.

Still,  I have a bad habit of waiting way too long to get to the barber to get a haircut. It’s not that I hold disdain for the experience; it’s more that I always seem to have something more pressing that gets in the way. I should really go every four or five weeks. At this stage in life, my hair grows, let’s say, inconsistently.  It resembles a lawn that has been fertilized and watered in spots rather than all over.  One part is lush and full, and the next is the Sahara Desert.

This time, it was a new low. I waited over 10 weeks to get to the barber.  As a result, I most of the bald spots had filled in (good) but the other areas were curling up and sticking out (bad).  I was way overdue.  I strolled into the barber and requested the usual.

Sitting in the chair with the barber clipping away, I saw the tufts of hair fall down on the cape. Sounds more manly than “apron”. Much to my surprise, large tufts of snow-white hair balls began to appear on the cape.  I am not talking about a little bit of gray hair mixed in with my natural blonde, but big old snowballs, thrown and hitting me smack between the eyes.

WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? 

Of course, this is just one of many revelations I have as I go through life.  It’s not good, or bad, it just is.  And I smiled, laughing inside about just how aloof I’ve been.

We change and the world changes around us, and in our haste to live, work, and play, we fail to take notice of either.  Suddenly, we find ourselves faced with surprises when the clues were all around us.  We failed to acknowledge the hints in our environment, or worse, we saw the clues, acknowledged them, but only paid lip service.  Then we wake up, with challenges that are bigger than they need to be, and realization of an opportunity missed.

Slow down. Breathe.  Look around. Observe. Assess. Give thought to the important things in yourself, your loved ones, your work life.

  • “This shirt doesn’t fit like it used to.”  – because your diet is a series of burritos and hamburgers, and your metabolism ain’t what it used to be. 
  • Customers don’t seem to be buying our products like they did.”  – your client needs are changing, your market is changing, and your company will be out of business if it doesn’t change.
  • “My partner seems awfully quiet lately.” – because they have an internal struggle and you didn’t ask. 
  • “We can’t seem to make enough of this stuff to make our clients happy.” – your firm is making more money than ever, and fat, dumb, and happy,  but competitors are capturing your missed opportunity with improved solutions.

What are the clues in your world telling you?

What is causing these symptoms?

What should you do?

Do it.