by Marcia Zidle, Featured Contributor
HERE’S A STORY that was told to me recently by a client who is an executive director of a non-profit agency. I hope it doesn’t offend anyone because there is a great lesson about the consequences of one’s decisions.
It’s about a fundraiser called a “cow drop” which requires a real live cow and a field that’s been divided into squares. Each square is sold to groups who bet that the cow will “drop” in their square. The cow is released; everyone is cheering the cow on. When the cow does her thing, the winning group gets a cash prize. At least, that’s what is supposed to happen.
What Really Happened
In this case, the field was a small paved parking lot, not a field. The cow was not a happy camper being in a small noisy space with too many people. She did “drop” but in more than one square – so there was not a definitive winner.
A roar went up from the crowd, the animal became enraged and bolted tearing through the fence and heading at full speed straight towards the crowd. The police had to shoot the cow to stop it. Chaos ensued. Not a good scene for the families attending what they expected to be a fun afternoon. Not a great thing for the sponsoring organization which had to deal with the PR fall-out. And of course, not a good thing for the cow!
We forget that a decision, big or small, has consequences. Sometimes it is in not thinking a decision all the way through that we risk negative outcomes. We need someone to say, “Whoa: hold-up and start asking questions. For example:
- What is the best thing that can happen?
- What is the worst thing that can happen?
- Who else do we need to talk to before going forward?
- What have others experiences been with this fund-raiser/project/ etc?
Smart Moves Tip:
I’m not suggesting that you talk the decision to death or always tie down every conceivable detail. If you do that, you’ll never get anything done. Rather, a balance must be struck between decisions we make every day because of our experience and those that are new, different or not tested out. That’s why we need to depend upon others to pull our coat tails when something we’re doing can turn into a potential disaster. That can be a trusted colleague, a mentor or a coach. Their advice and guidance may save you time, money and even your reputation. Remember this “Cow Drop” story.