Sometimes a phrase will deeply resonate with me. “The sedative of misdirected frenzy” did so for me on a recent Sunday morning in church. This phrase succinctly captures a common yet avoidable problem in many aspects of our lives.
In companies or organizations
Haven’t we all observed the “sedative of misdirected frenzy” in a company or in an organization? When things aren’t working well, there is a strong temptation to “do something, do anything.” The result is an undirected (or misdirected) frenzy of action. While a short-term calming sedative, this misdirected action doesn’t address the underlying problem. So it simply wastes time and effort. And the underlying, often unacknowledged problem persists. In fact, the delay in addressing the real underlying problem may make the problem worse.
So dealing with the underlying problem must come first. Address the underlying problem. Diagnose the real causes. Initiate action — don’t stop with discussion. This fundamentally sound approach is not as easy or as convenient as the “sedative of misdirected frenzy.” But it is a better use of time, energy, and other resources. It means digging into real causes, not symptoms. It requires open and honest discussion. And it may require acknowledging uncomfortable realities that lie in the path of resolution.
Does this approach make sense in settings other than companies or organizations? I believe that the answer is “Yes.”
In other aspects of our lives
We are also tempted by the “sedative of misdirected frenzy” in our communities, in our neighborhoods, and in our families. We may even be tempted by it in our personal lives. I know that I’m often inclined to check off the easy items on my “to do” list, rather than to confront deeper concerns.
Let’s all “awake” from the “sedative of misdirected frenzy” — in companies and organizations and in all aspects of our lives. Those around us will be better for it. As individuals we will be better for it, too.