The Domino Effect of Actions

All too often, we make decisions by looking at the short term effect.  I don’t think a lot of us come to realize that the decisions we make affect more people than just those around us.  Our decisions affect their actions, and their actions affect those people that they interact with, and the people that those people interact with, etc…

When I was younger, I used to do in-home computer and electronics repair.  It was nothing fancy.  It was more like a self-employed gig on top of my regular job.  I landed these gigs mostly through referrals from people around me.  For the most part, I made myself available whenever someone contacted me with an issue.  However, because it wasn’t a real “job”, I simply saw it as a way to make some extra money on my free time. I didn’t take my commitment to service all too seriously. 

A woman called me one day who needed help with a printer issue.  I had helped her once on a previous occasion, but this was an urgent issue.  She had a flight in a couple hours to do a sales presentation with a potential client the following day.  I had the time to help her, but instead, I put my wants ahead of the service I could’ve provided for her.  I told her that I wouldn’t be able to meet with her.  Instead, I wound up sitting at home, watching TV.  My TV time (in other words, my own satisfaction) was more important, right?

A few weeks later, I was speaking with the person who referred this woman to me originally.  He informed me that the woman wound up going to Kinko’s to print her boarding pass, but Kinko’s was also having some issues accessing her boarding pass to print.  She wound up missing her flight and was not able to find another one to meet with the client at the time the client had expected.  The client wound up cancelling the presentation altogether, and the woman lost a potential sale. Needless to say, this woman never called me again to ask for my help.

Because of my laziness, possible income was lost, a service was never explored by a business, and I’m sure there were other effects that carried down the line that I was never aware of.  

Since then, I’ve raised my level of service, both professionally and personally, but more importantly, I now try and look at how my decisions and actions change the big picture.  How many people will be affected by my decision, and how will it affect them?

Do you have any stories of bad decisions that had far-reaching consequences?  Leave your comments!

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  • Comments (2)
  1. What a great post. I saw a lot of similarities with things that I did when a small computer repair company started to see the effects of the recent downward economy. It was refreshing reading this and all so true. Finding the balance was something that challenged me greatly, as for I began to realize I was becoming an workaholic…I guess from trying to offset my previous shortcoming.

    • Abe
    • June 18th, 2010

    Excellent point there. If the focus of our decisions is our self and the here and now, we will always fail to achieve and experience our greatest impact.Important points to consider in our daily decisions.

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