Waiting for a Wake Up Call

Waiting for a Wake Up Call

It's time to answer the wake up call and start doing something.

Bill Marriott who started the famous hotel chain said, “We are asleep until something wakes us up.” In my experience, this is often true in business and in life. Until we get a wake-up call, or until we have a crisis, we often don’t take action.

Waiting for a wake-up call is dangerous whether in business, life, or even when it comes to addressing issues of the planet.

I attended a Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, in which brands such as UPS & Coca-Cola come from all over the world to use their brands to create a more sustainable world, and to of course, gain competitive advantage by doing good.

Two things that really struck me from the conference were:

  1. There are a lot of companies SERIOUSLY taking action towards a more sustainable planet and society.
  2. Having just visited NASA the week before, and hearing their scientists telling me how fast the world is changing, it occurred to me that there is a lack of urgency in tackling sustainability.

Waiting For A Wake-Up Call

Even though the evidence is mounting—the ice caps are melting faster than ever, that we had the warmest May on record around the globe, the prices for seafood are rising fast because fisheries are collapsing—it’s like we are waiting for a wake-up call to be serious about sustainability.

But, the thing about wake-up calls is that they often come too late.

It’s so important to take action before the wake-up call comes, is that by the time it comes we have fewer resources, and less margin to act. It’s almost like the Titanic trying to turn its giant rudder as it approached the iceberg.  They simply ran out of time to maneuver.

Scientists tell us, that we have a very small window now to really make progress on things like global warming. If we don’t take action soon, and that means ALL of us, we may find our very species much like RIM, experiencing a wake-up call but knowing that it’s too late.

People might argue that the difference between good leaders and great leaders, and successful people and less successful people is that they see a potential crisis ahead of time and are able to avoid it.

My friend David got a wake-up call when he had a heart-attack, and I tell his story in my book, The Five Secrets you Must Discover Before You Die.

Waiting on a wake-up call doesn't make any sense. Stop waiting and start living. Dr. John Izzo helps with his books.

In the emergency room, having had the heart episode, he woke up and wrote down five things he would do if he survived. Lucky for him, he did survive and was able to act on that list. But imagine all of the people who don’t get a second chance.

David said, “I was lucky, but why would you wait for a wake-up call to make a list that you could make any day of your life.”

Whether it’s in business, life, or regarding our entire planet, it seems we have a tendency to be asleep until something wakes us up. But sustainability won’t wait until we are ready. By the time we are ready to take action, it might be too late.

I was inspired by what I saw at the Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, but I was also reminded that we are acting much too slowly as if we have all the time in the world to tackle this situation. I think it’s likely that we don’t.

Keep on leading in work and life.


Dr. John Izzo has spoken to over one million people, advised over 500 companies, authored nine best-selling books, and helped some of the world's most admired companies. He has been a pioneer in creating successful businesses and emerging work trends for over twenty-five years.

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