The human being is essentially a lazy creature; part of our survival instinct is to conserve effort until we really need to expend it. These days we experience the effect of that as fire fighting; we wait for something to go wrong before we leap into action and fix it. And, it’s great fun (sometimes) to dive into an issue and sort it out, so why wouldn’t we fight fires. And, in many businesses, that ability to solve an ‘unexpected’ problem, fight a fire, or deal with an issue is rewarded.

However, I bet just by reading that first paragraph many of you will be thinking that most of the issues that turn into fires actually aren’t that unexpected and, maybe with a bit of forethought or planning, the situation wouldn’t have arisen in the first place. And, wow, what a huge amount of effort, time and money we spend on dealing with fires that could be better spent on more ‘value creating’ activities.

We just know this stuff – it’s obvious when we think about it – but still, we do it; we succumb to our human nature. It’s not just in the work environment, we do it at home – we know we shouldn’t have all those desserts or all that cheese, and we should maybe take a little more exercise (move more, eat less), we know it but just don’t do anything about it. That is until we have a scare.

In the consulting business, we call this the Vitamins and Aspirins Paradox. Many of our clients come to us when they have a problem; there is some sort of fire in the business that they don’t quite know how to deal with. They have a pain and they need an aspirin. What we really want to do is provide vitamins so that our clients stay healthy in the first place. Often, after administering aspirins, we do get the opportunity to offer vitamins as we help a company achieve another level of performance. It’s like the ancient Chinese way of assessing a doctor; doctors were not paid to heal patients but to ensure maintenance of their health and a doctor’s skill was measured by the number of healthy patients that he had. ‘The superior doctor prevents sickness, the mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness, and the poor doctor treats actual sickness’.

And so, our mission is to encourage you to take your vitamins and stay well, rather than waiting until you have a pain and seeking help. Many of the issues that start to cause pain have been there for quite a while and many of them will have been slowing you down, creating friction, wasting resources and losing money in many areas of your business all along. A consultant is uniquely placed to take an independent and impartial view of your business and offer the vitamins to keep you business-fit and healthy, or maybe make some of those tweaks to the way you operate to keep you on track. At the end of the day, as a business leader, it’s your decision: give in to basic human nature and be reactive, or use superhuman nature and be proactive.

What sort of business leader are you?

And if you do aspire to be a super human, click here: The SMBA