Measure Twice, Cut Once

I confess that I am much more skilled at breaking things than building things. When it comes to the work of a handyman, I can get the job done but I am slow and unskilled. However, I have learned how to apply an important element of the handyman’s work to my leadership. My dad used to remind me of an important principle when cutting wood when constructing or repairing anything. He would remind me before applying a saw to wood to measure twice so that I would only have to cut once. The point is to verify what you already know to be true in order to minimize making a mistake and having to cut again or to waste wood that was not measured correctly to start with.

I am blessed with some administrative gifts, but being far from perfect I have also learned to apply new skills to help in getting my work accomplished. I talk to myself and almost every day I remind myself to “measure twice and cut once.” As I work with an assistant, a fellow staff member, or an employee, I tell them that I would rather you ask the same question three or four times and get it right than to only ask once and let a detail go unnoticed. Understand that the nature of leadership correlates to increased numbers of details and responsibilities. Hopefully, you have a team and/or assistants to help with those details. Remind them and continually remind yourself to always measure twice (check it and double check it) and you will only have to cut once (the task will be done right).

I learned a new phrase recently that I have often repeated to myself from Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. He made a political endorsement that got members of the press in a frenzy. At his next press conference, a reporter ask him about the endorsement. About five or six times, as the question was being asked, he kept interrupting the question with this word: “Seattle….Seattle…Seattle.” The Seattle Seahawks were their next opponent. He was communicating that his focus was on the next game and not on political commentary.

I found myself recently distracted from a task and said out loud to myself….”Seattle….Seattle.” It was my way of refocusing. It may or may not make a difference to you but I find mental devices such as these helpful to keep me focused, attentive to details, and effective in my leadership. There are others. I have mine and you have yours. In any case you should be diligent in developing mental disciplines and exercises to maximize your leadership.

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