On Friday, I clocked off early to head down the south coast with the family.
It did not go to plan.
It reminded me of that quote from Mike Tyson…
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
My wife and I had planned to put our feet up, socialise with friends, and watch the boys enjoy the quiet outdoors.
But instead, the south coast threw me one helluva haymaker and it landed square on my pearly whites.
It treated the wife and me as a big fat pinata at a kid’s birthday party…
But, despite taking an absolute beating, it did remind me of an incredible lesson.
Here is what happened.
I shut the laptop at around 2 pm and we were on the road by 3 pm. It’s a 2-ish hour car trip outside of peak hour.
I thought that was early enough to avoid traffic but who was I kidding… by the time I got to Wollongong I was in bumper-to-bumper.
The kids were playing tag-team on “who was going to be the little s*** and scream and cry the loudest.”
First, it was my 8-month-old, then when he calmed down, my toddler would lose his marbles… They had it choreographed to a tee.
It ended up being 4.5 hours of pure bliss down the motorway…
By the time we arrived, Huey (my eldest) had so much pent up energy that he was running into walls, breaking things, and bashing up the other kids we were on holiday with.
By the time we got them to bed and poured ourselves a glass of wine, it was well into the evening so we called it quits at about 11. “Tomorrow will be a good day,” we said.
But right on cue, the South Coast holiday threw a big right hook into the kidneys.
My 8-month old Eddy had developed a cold and no matter what we tried, he would not sleep.
My wife took a big L for the team and stayed up all night, holding him upright so he could sleep.
I at least got intermittent sleep… in between periods of sleeping I’d remind her how good it was going to be to take the boys to the beach… to the farm… and to all the other activities we had planned.
But the dawn never came, and the sun never poked through the clouds.
Instead, we got torrential rain.
It was so bad that we couldn’t be outside… which meant Huey was an absolute terror.
Off little sleep, Nicky and I had no shortcuts and our bag of tricks was empty.
At one point, Huey started repeating: “Mummy, I want to go home.”
We dismissed it at first.
But he kept saying it.
Desperate and exhausted, Nicky responded:
“I do too Huey, I do too.”
Every heard of the sunk-cost fallacy?
It’s where you insist on continuing with something because you’ve already put in a lot of work or effort… so you keep investing even more despite you knowing that it isn’t going to work.
Like a bad relationship, a bad business decision, or even something as simple as a program you’re running that you want to get rid of.
Because you’ve ‘sunk’ so much time into it, it’s harder to turn around and walk away.
Despite our best intentions, it was never going to be a great weekend…
My 2-year old was right… we needed to cut our losses and go home.
So we did.
We packed our bags back in the car and left.
We abandoned the idea of a lovely weekend and the costs of the Airbnb and went home.
It was the best decision we could have made…
In fact, it saved our weekend.
Because it all went up from there.
We had a great time… and it’s all thanks to my 2-year old.
Sometimes in business… we start things & invest in things that don’t go to plan, but instead of pulling the ripcord…
We keep digging the hole…. only for it to get deeper and harder to extract ourselves out of.
I see it with my mentees all the time, they might have a program that they no longer want to run, or a client they no longer want to work with, or a staff member who they no longer want to drag along…
But because they’ve already invested so much, they can’t help but stick it out… even when they know it’s not getting any better.
Is there anything in your business that might be a sunk cost to you?
It’s definitely worth the thought.