This morning, I’m heading into work a bit later as our air conditioning unit is being maintained. While there isn’t anything wrong with our air conditioning (and certainly, the weather hasn’t required it to be used much at all), my wife and I are true believers in an ounce of prevention being worth much more than a pound of cure. In fact, we tend to maintain much in and around our house: the roof, the heating system, our cars, our snowblower, etc.
Some might say all this prevention and maintenance never pays off. This line of thought might continue that over the years, we’re sinking money into items that worked fine, and, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But I would counter that living by that adage throughout is a hard way to actually live. If we assume that things will always work, and don’t need to be taken care of, then we are placing ourselves in a position where a small problem to fix could become a large one, and that could potentially lead to a greater investment of time, money, and energy.
The world lives according to the idea of entropy. That, given time, things will get messy (one only has to look at our kitchen counter) or break down. In order to prevent this, we have to continuously keep up on things.
In our work lives it is much the same. If we don’t invest small moments or small amounts of resources into keeping things in order, then we are sure to get surprised when things stop working, requiring much more time and resources than would have been the case before.
The goal? For us to become ever better at determining when we need to maintain and when we can let things go, for somewhere, there is a balance. For me, I always find myself leaning towards the maintain everything mantra, but likely, I don’t need to go this far, and it might be more micromanagement than needed. Still, learning and leading is all about finding balance; I hope to get there eventually!