Earlier today, some crazy guy flew by me on a Los Angeles freeway. First, he was in the far left lane. He cut in between everybody, moving himself to the far right lane. He zigzagged again to the left so that he could try to gain some time and pass all the other cars. I couldn’t figure out if the guy was really in a hurry or if he just liked playing games and driving dangerously.
The ironic part of the story is that when I got to the off-ramp where I needed to get off the freeway, guess who was in front of me? It was the same crazy guy that zigzagged and nearly drove 20 people off the road.
There is a life lesson in this and a business lesson as well. There just aren’t any short cuts. This guy risked his own life, not to mention the lives of countless other drivers on the Los Angeles freeways and at the end of the day, he didn’t save one second. He had to get off at the same traffic signal as I did, and had to wait for the signal to change before either one of us could move. So what did the guy gain? Did he feel better as a result of his actions? Did he gain any time? Did he make any friends? In what ways is this driver better off?
It is the same as business. There aren’t any short cuts. You can’t take short cuts when you prepare your company books and records. You can’t take short cuts when you prepare your tax return. You can’t take short cuts when you work with your vendors. And you can’t take short cuts when you deal with your employees, not to mention, your family and other people who are important in your life.
Short cuts always come back to you. I make a joke at home that short cuts usually become long cuts because something usually goes wrong that causes the short cut to take longer than if you would have just done the job right in the first place. This isn’t the same story as the tortoise and the hare. This is really about getting it right. Do it right the first time. Don’t cut corners and don’t cheat. We live in a world where cutting corners seems to be fashionable, but the truth is that it doesn’t work and sometimes, when you get caught cutting corners, you end up being punished for it. The punishment might be a traffic ticket or in business, it potentially could be a lawsuit or worse. Is it really worth it?
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