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Senior Correspondent

Big problems are the result of neglecting small ones.

“How often have we learned the harsh lesson that, like unharvested fruit, untended problems turn rotten?”

— Jim Moorhead, The Instant Survivor


Delay, not problems, destroys us. A crisis was a small problem, once.

General Douglas MacArthur said, “The history of the failure of war can almost be summed up in two words: too late."

  1. Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy.
  2. Too late in realizing the mortal danger.
  3. Too late in preparedness.
  4. Too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance.
  5. Too late in standing with one’s friends. (From The Instant Survivor, recommended read)


I asked crisis management expert Jim Moorhead to explain why leaders let small problems grow. He replied, “The first reason is denial.”

Denial is pretending it will go away if we ignore it. Jim explained that we are surrounded by crisis every day: financial crisis, climate crisis, energy crisis, banking crisis. The fact that life goes on gives us the wrong impression.

Life may go on when crisis is “out there.” But, personal and organizational problems sleep too close to magically vanish in the morning. Health, financial and persistent management issues never solve themselves.


Recurring issues suggest you should have dealt with them already. Successful leaders take positive action toward negative situations, quickly.


Ask yourself and others, “If things continue as they are, where do we end up?” Moorhead called this, “Illuminating trajectory.” Take action by shining the light on direction. If nothing changes where will you be next month?

New Trajectory:

Jim suggests that positive trajectory begins when leaders:

  1. Move beyond denial.
  2. Stop substituting worry for action.
  3. Stop telling lies about their situation.
  4. Accept help from others to tackle problems.

What small problems simply go away?

What tips can you offer that help prevent small problems from becoming big?

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