The Toe Dippers Dilemma: 7 Ways to Take the Plunge

Toe dippers get ahead by letting others fail. They commit when success is guaranteed. “Wait and see,” is their motto.

Things toe dippers say:

  1. Go for it. (Let others screw up.)
  2. Let’s study this. I need more information.
  3. I warned you.

Toe dippers feel smug when others fail.

Toe dippers feel smug when others fail. Image of a person listening to headphones with a grin on their face.

The danger of dabbling:

Dabblers repeat the past and call it progress. Same people – Same strategies – Same disappointing results.

Jump in or move on. Don’t stand there with your toe in the water.

Life is too short, economies too volatile, and people too important to spend your time dabbling on the fringes of meaningful leadership.

The wisdom of toe dipping:

The purpose of dabbling is testing the water so you can jump in or move on. Constant dabbling is cowardice.

Tip: Don’t look back if you move on.

Preserving the status quo is wise. It’s stability. Persistent dabbling is splashing in a tidal pool.

Don’t splash on the fringe with your toes in the water.

Don't splash on the fringe with your toes in the water. Image of a person standing on the edge of the water.

7 ways to take the plunge:

If the path ahead is certain, it doesn’t require leadership.

  1. Does it matter? Don’t waste time on insignificant activities. If it doesn’t matter, move on.
  2. Let problems be big. Don’t minimize issues to make commitments. Every time you minimize a problem you devalue commitment.
  3. Point out problems with optimism.
  4. Remember why you do what you do.
  5. Dabble a little. Run pilot programs before you go all-in.
  6. Adopt the strategy of adapting. Maintain the destination but adapt as you go. Those who commit find a way. The uncommitted complain from the beach.
  7. Expect the dip. Work through the downturn that happens at the beginning of change.

Toe dipping leaders may have titles but they’re followers.

How do you decide when to stop dabbling and take the plunge?

Don’t Make Stupid Commitments

The 5 Powers of Shared Commitment

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