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How will you know when the Fat Lady sings?

It starts slowly. It’s barely a whisper, a knowing in the back of your brain that something is off. You ignore it and press on. Until one day you wake up and realize not only has the Fat Lady sung while you were sleep walking through your days, she belted out a number of tunes and you completely ignored her.

We are all too familiar with the saying “It’s not over until the fat lady sings”. The challenge is, quite often, we choose to ignore her. Consider the following.

The Dog or the Problem Child: It could be a product, an employee or a customer. Whatever it is it’s underperforming. Not only that, it is sucking the life out of you and your organization (and surprise – everyone else involved). Conduct an energy audit, and if the result is negative instead of positive perhaps it is time to let another one bite the dust – in a humane and kind way of course.

The Past Due Date: Food has expiry dates, relationships don’t, but perhaps they should. If you feel exhausted, can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm you once had, and are cranky and irritable you, my friend, could be in a past due or in several past due relationships. Are you doing an inordinate amount of giving without a lot of getting? Are the scales tipped in the other party’s favour? Perhaps it is time to assess the value exchange. Is the value you are giving equitable to the value you are receiving? If not take stock, shape up and ship out (i.e. exit stage right or through whatever other exit you can find). Loyalty is a good thing; giving to the point of exhaustion is not.

Throwing Good Money After Bad: Let me be clear, the money itself isn’t bad, the investment itself is. It’s a sure thing, a winner, so you go all in and throw a bunch of resources behind it – time, money, people – and suddenly you find yourself at the end of the road and it hasn’t paid out. “No problem,” you tell yourself – we’ll extend the deadline, invest more dollars, and put more people on it. Some more time elapses, and it is still behind schedule, over budget and your patience is wearing thin. But not one to throw in the towel you tell yourself if you can just hang on a bit longer and put a bit more into it, the big payout is just around the corner. NOT. There are times when your greatest strength i.e. tenacity and persistence can become your biggest weakness or blind spot. When you get to the point where you can no longer trust your own judgement get a second opinion – and a third, perhaps even a fourth – from someone that is unbiased, has nothing to gain and will give you the goods straight up. Be sure you don’t shoot the messenger, and let your parties know they will not be penalized for telling it like it is.

Yes, the Fat Lady can be your friend. She brings with her a very valuable message. Choosing to listen to her rather than ignoring her could be just what you need to take you to a better place, you may not have previously considered or been ready for. As Alexander Graham Bell so aptly said, “When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

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