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The Invisible Tangle

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The Invisible Tangle

There are many obstacles that prevent us from progressing in business and some are fairly obvious: Time, Money, Support, Energy…

But there is one that is often invisible, and that is the habit of decision-making. Or, more correctly, “non-decision” making.  Some forms of procrastination are so sophisticated that they warrant being awarded a doctorate.  Here are just a few:

Generalism: A consultant who “does business planning, organisational development, marketing strategy, performance management, financial planning, executive coaching and team motivation with a wide range of small, medium and large organisations”. Adding “decision-making” to their portfolio – and applying it – might enable them to cut through the tangled web that prevents them from moving forward (which is typically invisible to them).

Activism: A professional who spends every waking moment on client affairs is potentially running their lives by deadlines and the driving need to please. If the time for business and personal development is never “now”; then when is the right time?  The decision to stop being a martyr – to “get off the cross, because they need the wood” is just that: a decision. But in these cases a lot of pain must sometimes be endured before that decision gets made (for them).

Detailism: It’s always much easier to call for more information, more facts, more reasons; than it is to make a decision. Calling for more information can indeed avert a mistake. But who’s counting the cost of untapped opportunity? Might it be more productive to just “try it and see”? What have you to lose? or more importantly what could you gain?

We all slip into these and other habits.  The problem is that when we do, we are least likely to know that it has happened. Our minds will go to great lengths to label this state as something else: “prudence”, “need for variety”, or “customer service”.

The same applies to our colleagues and clients. They too will call for more information, say “they need to think about it”, raise objections… and a zillion other tactics to avert the moment of decision.

The root cause however is Fear. Fear of making the wrong decision, fear of recriminations, fear of the unknown, fear of what other people might think. But where else is this showing up in your own life – and how’s that working out for you? The opposite of fear in my book is Faith. You have to have faith in yourself that you’re making the right decision and this comes from your gut, not from your head.

Too many times we make decisions based on our head and invariably they work out to be the wrong decisions but through the laws of probability we don’t notice. The important thing is – do you know how to deal with these issues so that you don’t waste your time pandering to procrastination?

What would happen if you made just one more decision every week? Are numerous dilemmas preventing you from doing this? What would be the value of a breakthrough? How much are you missing out on by not making a decision and moving forward? What has it cost you so far in delayed decisions?

Paul Davis is a business growth specialist and set up Davis Business Consultants in 2001 to help business owners solve their biggest concerns: how to get more business, profits, focus and time; break through the barriers and reach the next level of growth. Having trained as a Management Accountant and become a Certified Management Consultant, Paul worked across a wide-range of industry sectors, including: consultancy, construction, high- and low-tech manufacturing, service, and nationwide retail. Paul soon became disillusioned with the lack of practical resources available to help business owners develop their business and so established his own consultancy. Paul has turned every loss making business he worked with into profit and is known for being a classic lateral thinker, his strong commercial acumen, and his down to earth approach in dealing with the constraints of a business, whatever they may be. For your FREE copy of his special report "The 7 Big Mistakes..." then visit

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  • Great angle Paul! Really liked this question: “who’s counting the cost of untapped opportunity?” Imagine a board of directors meeting and while going through the metrics you saw a big graph showing opportunities missed? Brilliant.
    Taking action is so important. I guess it does have to do 100% with everybody’s personality, it’s natural being inclined to make or not decisions. I like the exercise of making one more decision per week …

  • Great reminder not to be complacent, accepting of the status quo or to be afraid to make the tough calls. Thanks Paul

  • Nice one, I guess what you called “Generalism” is the one that really requires faith. I am sure more than one person reading your post will feel identified (i.e. “If I don’t cover all these angles in my services the client will go elsewhere). You are right though, but I think it’s the toughest and deeply associated to faith in the future (avoiding fear)

  • To be honest, Paul, I would fear if I was to answer those questions correctly and honestly, people may not regard me highly as a competent coach, as we all know coaches are perfect and have no issues like FEAR and PROCRASTINATION.
    On a more serious note, your post is compelling! I know approximately the cost of not making an important professional decision in 2007 (I am still paying), and I know the freedom I received from making a big personal decision back in 2008 (I am still reaping the benefits). If there was only an anti-procrastination pill…
    Thank you for sharing poignant imagery in your post, by reading, it brings home a reality check.

  • Thanks for your comments everybody. The biggest one I feel that hurts people is the cost of not making a decision. When opportunity presents itself, peoples fears hit in, they don’t make a decision; but they never count the cost of missing out on what could be… if they were to make a decision and proceed. Once people make a decision, it’s amazing what happens!!

  • Anonymous


    I absolutely loved your statement about how some forms of procrastination deserve a doctorate! It is amazing to see how many decisions when made turn out to be so anticlimatic that one has to wonder how we build up this dramatic story of how the decision will cause major meltdowns or other calamities.

    The “yeah buts” will get you every time when you think you need one more data point or one more analysis. It’s important to stop and ask, “what do I believe about this decision? How much of this story is true?” Then go make that one more decision, big or small, and have faith that you are truly competent and able to withstand the consequences.

  • Feeling justified about getting the iron out this morning for 2 client meetings today so, yay, great post Dave, thanks!

  • Roisin Bell

    I agree Dave, it’s all about keeping the focus where you want it and avoiding distractions and image issues.u00a0nnHowever, I have to ask – are you saying that it’s ok for a man to have tongue or nose piercings, just us girls should take them out??!u00a0

  • @04506e7b75e92d0cd51f3aa114e647ae:disqus @828482dfa045227e1a61ad34b8070ed3:disqus Hi Roisin, we have added “and men” in that sentece. This escaped the usual screening we make to posts nbefore they go live.

  • Hi Niall, I “like” the Facebook Page of http://gilchristandco.comu00a0u00a0too 🙂 I’ve been delighted to work with some accountancy practices who seek to add value to their clients and become more relevant & approachable. Thereu2019s a great accountant out there for everyone! ~ Helen

  • Great post Helen. People tend to associate accountants with bad news and hard work so we are avoided like a plague until absolutely needed. Sometimes by then we can only give bad news and need the client to do more work to get the info needed. Although if clients only communicated more through the year and spread the work throughout the year it wouldn’t be such a chore for them plus the accountant can be more proactive for their business rather than reactive and just picking up the pieces. If us accountants could be handled properly and not put off until last minute then clients would get far more benefit from us. Rant over 🙂

  • Precisely! Thanks Sian

  • Paddy Walsh

    Hi Helen, very good blog and very true. I had a client once who likened the “annual visit” to going to his dentist. It took a little explaining that he should clean his teeth and his accountant was more than a tax consultant.

  • The dentist, yes that about sums up the feeling of many! I think that when an accountant is aware of that feeling and can improve the relationship, with “a little explaining”, as you have done, that the problem just goes away. It’s a communication problem for many. Well done Paddy!

  • The dentist, yes that about sums up the feeling of many! I think that when an accountant is aware of that feeling and can improve the relationship, with “a little explaining”, as you have done, that the problem just goes away. It’s a communication problem for many. Well done Paddy!

  • Gianni Ponzi

    It would be interesting to see HOW accounts are kept by business and it this is part of the “tailbacks” issue you outlined above.nnA poll on who uses actual accounting software vs the “receipts in a shoebox” model would be interesting.nnIt might even suggest one avenue accountants and business could focus on e.g better training, easier software etc

  • It would be interesting to see HOW accounts are kept by business and is nthis part of the “tailbacks” issue you outlined above.nnA poll on who uses actual accounting software vs the “receipts in a shoebox” model would be interesting.nnIt might even suggest one avenue accountants and business could focus on e.g better training, easier software etcu00a0

  • We are on our third accountant in 9 years, mind you, the first one didn’t last long as he was ‘inherited’.u00a0 I’ve recently changed to one who vows to help her clients understand their accounts. It’s early days but I’m not sure that it is going to happen. I’m also conscious that I am very much a less than ideal client in that I leave getting stuff to them to the last minute sometimes too although I do put everything on an excel spreadsheet that they provided me with.nu00a0

  • I am happy to report that Accountants nowadays are far nicer that 20 years ago. With the onset of Social Networking, it means they can really communicate with their clients and potential clients.nnMy biggest regret was not putting my accounts online, as potentially anyone could then work on my book keeping, providing me with greater choices. I agree that you have to be able to communicate well with your chosen accountant, and they should be proactive about future savings, rather than being happy to recreate the past, as you say.nnA good effort from both sides should improve the relationship, like any relationship 🙂

  • Info

    I wouldn’t agree entirely Helen. I provided my accountant with everything in the April, he still filed my accounts late and I incurred the fee. Obviously I wasn’t too happy and surprised in his professionalisum he didn’t offer to pay considering it was his mistake. Personally I don’t see why Accountants leave it to the last minute.

  • It can be hard to find the right professional…u00a0Next month’s article gives some tips on keeping in control of paperwork, so maybe that will help a little. Fingers x that your new accountant works out for you Lorna.

  • nnI’m delighted to hear that your experience of accountantsnis, in general, good. This month’s “Accountancy Ireland” has annarticle entitled “The Emotionally Intelligent Accountant” (!) andnit’s a sign that the profession is now recognising that accountants need tondevelop skills other than finance to properly service the needs of theirnclients.nnnIn relation to putting your accounts online, itu2019s neverntoo late! You should discuss moving package with your accountant firstu00a0though.nIdeally, you should set up reports and analyses in such a way that itu2019snmeaningful information for you and in a format thatu2019s usable for preparing the final accountsnas well. I always discuss client needs, logistics (how the business operates onna daily basis), and personal preferences with a client before setting up annaccounting system. Then itu2019s u201ctheiru201d system, they understand it and it doesnwhat they want, in addition to churning out VAT returns and producingninformation for accountants and auditors. u00a0nnnThanks Elaine & good luck with your accountant :)nnn

  • nnIu2019m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. If younbrought in everything in April, it would seem that there should have been timento finalise your affairs. nnnNot all accountants are the same. There are good and badnaccountants in the same way as there are good and bad plumbers. I havenencountered a few accountants, (and other professionals), where the quality ofnwork and client service was poor. I wrote a post about it last year, u201cHiring anProfessional: 10 Tips for Spotting a Professional Turkeyu201d. for the comment, a valid point. ~ Helennnn

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