Become High Maintenance

"Delay is the enemy of your destiny."
Eric M Twiggs

Do you anticipate and prepare, or do you just react to what the day brings? While in my late 20s, I competed in Karate tournaments. I had a match scheduled with an older, slower but more experienced competitor named Mike. I was confident that I would win because of my youth and speed advantage. Mike had grey hair, a pot belly, and an old worn out Karate belt around his waist. I watched him warm up and my confidence increased because of his slow and awkward movements.

In spite of all of my confidence, I lost the match! Mike used his experience against me by anticipating my moves and responding with the appropriate counter. It appeared that he knew what I was going to do before I did. This experience taught me that anticipation and preparation can give you a competitive advantage over superior talent. The best way to achieve this advantage is to become "high maintenance". 

Becoming "high maintenance" means that you are focused on the maintenance activities that will keep you in a position of anticipation and preparation. A maintenance activity is easy to ignore because it's a priority, but it's NOT pressing. There is no deadline for completion and you don't experience an immediate negative consequence for ignoring it. This lulls you into thinking that everything is fine. The long-term consequence of neglecting maintenance is that you end up in the "mandatory zone". In this undesirable place, the activity is now a priority AND it's pressing. How do you know if you are high maintenance, or in the mandatory zone? The following scenarios will help you decide. 

  • Changing your oil at the recommended intervals is high maintenance. Once you have a blown engine, you are in the mandatory zone

  • Exercising three times a week makes you high maintenance. Getting the high blood pressure report from the doctor puts you in the mandatory zone.

  • Scheduling regular date nights with your spouse is high maintenance. Having your spouse move out puts you in the mandatory zone.

When you are in the mandatory zone you lose precious time that you never get back. The time that you would normally focus on your goal is now spent on damage control.

Take the time today to reflect on your TO DO list. If the majority of your tasks are maintenance activities, you will be like Mike and have a competitive edge.