I’ve been in the advertising business for almost 30 years now. As I take a moment to reflect on my career, there is this one experience that still stands out. Years ago, I was working at one of the greatest “hot shop” creative agencies on an automotive account. The client on this account was especially impatient and on one occasion dictated a newspaper headline to our agency. And when I say our agency, I mean me. The agency was determined to create ads that people might actually find interesting and would want to read. But the client had no time for such foolishness and instead mandated the intriguing headline, “WHY WAIT?” I remember returning to the agency from the client’s office, tail between my legs, admitting that as much as I tried … I lost this argument. And we knew that if we wanted to keep working on the business (at least with that client at that time) we had to relent. And relent we did. Beautiful hero shot of the wonderful new vehicle supported by one of the lamest headlines ever dictated.
But even 25 years later, that headline’s words still reach out and grab me. Why wait? Though they amount to a crappy headline, the simple question can be quite inspiring in the right context.
On the one hand, waiting is important. We’re taught from a young age that patience is a virtue. And we know that good things, come to those who wait. Even now, being impatient is one of my biggest character flaws.
On the other hand, sitting around waiting doesn’t really allow us to get much done. So, I go back to the question. Why wait? Especially as it relates to things of importance, we don’t want to look back in our life rearview mirror with regrets about not having acted.
Why wait? Why wait to do the right thing? Why wait for opportunity to present itself? Why wait to try to make your mark in the world? Why wait to tell the most important people in your life that you love them? Why wait to hand a $20 bill to a homeless person without wondering what they’ll do with it? Why wait to ask if you don’t know the answer? Why wait to smile? Why wait to get into the gym if you want to lose a few pounds? Why wait to get your master’s degree? Why wait to tell your colleagues that you appreciate and respect them? Why wait to end dysfunctional relationships? Why indeed.