Dropping the Ball

As a confessed perfectionist, ‘dropping the ball’ is something I have never liked to do. Delivering as promised and exceeding expectations have always been my motto, so it should be no surprise that many times I have compromised my own well-being trying to fulfill all my commitments.

As a young professional in Corporate America, I saw quite often how the bosses expected people to work insane hours, miss family celebrations, and disregard health altogether when we had to make a deadline. Doing all that to meet a big deadline was not a surprising thing, learning that the customer only got to see the offer a week later because he/she was on vacation when it was delivered, was.

From that time on, I have always questioned, Who is setting the expectation? Is it reasonable?, What’s the worst that can happen if it can’t be met?

Spending many years of my career in Sales, made me realize that there are very few circumstances that good communication can’t solve. 9 out of every 10 times I have asked a customer to grant more time to deliver a project, the customer has not had a problem with it, nor has it had a negative impact on the award process (except if we talk about public bidding processes, and then, you don’t sleep or bathe until that offer is delivered on time!).

Last week I dropped the ball on this blog. It didn’t get published on Monday. I wasn’t feeling well when the time to get it done came, and I fought every inch of my nature before mindfully acknowledging the obvious. The world is not going to stop because I don’t publish today, actually, I bet that most people didn’t even notice! (although I admit that it was nice to get a couple of emails asking me about it). When you actually realize that most of the pressure you feel to get things done and to do them right, comes from YOU, you will feel liberated.
In my opinion, the secret to being able to drop the ball is to pick it back up as soon as you can. I do allow myself to drop it, but only when it’s imperative that it happens when I am truly compromising my well-being (physical or mental). The danger in dropping it is that you are now telling yourself that you will allow it to happen, and if you are not disciplined enough, the temptation to let it happen again and again will get stronger and stronger. The other thing to consider is that your eagerness to drop the ball, will be tied to your performance reputation, and you don’t want to mess up with that.

If people know that you are trustworthy and you deliver on your commitments, they wouldn’t question you when the day comes and you are not able to come through.

There are people that are experts at finding the reasons to justify letting the ball drop, and others, that risk their own health not to let it happen. As with everything, finding the right balance and understanding what’s really at stake when you are considering doing it, is what would allow you to make the right decision.

Reflecting on our own “ball dropping” dynamic will tell us a whole lot about how we are living our day-to-day life. Are we overcommitting? Are we lacking motivation? Are we saying yes to things, just to go through the motions? Would love to read your thoughts on this, please share in the comments.


Leticia Latino
Leticia Latino
With over 20 years of experience in the Telecom Industry Leticia Latino went from working for Merrill Lynch and Telecom Giant Nortel Networks to accepting the challenge of extending the legacy of establishing her family business in the US back in 2002. Neptuno Group was originally founded by her father in 1972 in South America where they helped deploy some of the first Cellular Networks in the region and where they have built over 10,000 Towers. Leticia is a recipient of the Women in IoT award by Connected Magazine, Revolutionary CEOs by Aspioneer, and one of the 30 most influential Leaders in Tech by Insight Success. She currently serves as a full member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Development Advisory Committee (BDAC) and as the Chair of the Job Skills and Training Working Group. ​In addition, Leticia is a published author and a contributor in a broad variety of blogs, and her book “Women in Business Leading the Way” became an Amazon #1 Best Seller. She’s also a public speaker, mentor to young women, and a big advocate of nurturing “Human Connections” through her Back2Basics Podcast.

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  1. Leticia, we are so much alike it is crazy! It has taken me YEARS to learn hot to give myself some slack. An amazing thing happened when I stopped expecting myself to be perfect. I learned to say, “Oh well,” or “I’ll make a call and negotiate more time,” or “Oh my goodness, I really messed up. Please forgive me.” I was amazed that no one held me to standards as high as those I held myself to. I still seek excellence in all that I do, but I let go of the shortcomings a lot quicker, and humble myself as needed to bridge any gaps I created by falling short.

  2. Dear Leticia,

    So pertinent, so real. Reality in the face to be sure. In corporate life we strive, sometimes against all odds to deliver what we know would be stressful. Negotiations and agreements work in both ways. Should you have proven yourself in the past, then you know you can achieve again. Dropping the ball can provide a lesson in reality and ultimately calmness mixed with confidence. Deadlines and targets? Who sets them? Is that person under pressure to deliver and delegates such stress and anxiety to others. It takes bravery to say ‘not possible’ but good sense and confidence to explain in positive language why it would be better for the other party to either wait for perfection or the opposite where hard deadlines are demanded. Just love this, Leticia. Thank you for the mention my friend.


  3. I love the clarity of your thoughts and their flow, Leticia

    You wrote masterfully “In my opinion, the secret to being able to drop the ball is to pick it back up as soon as you can. I do allow myself to drop it, but only when it’s imperative that it happens when I am truly compromising my well-being (physical or mental).”

    I tell you that you dropped many balls of wisdom for others to pick up and learn from.