A Surprising Spin on Procrastination & Delay as Leadership Skills?

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

photo by Thomas Haines

photo by Thomas Haines

We live in an age where information is moving faster than any previous generation. We might think that this means that we need to make decisions faster to get ahead. The opposite is actually true. Leadership skills we actually need to develop are procrastination and delay to help us make the right decisions. If you delay because you are waiting on God to guide you, then the trajectory of your life will be blessed by better decisions.


Procrastinators often make better decisions. Why? Because by waiting until a decision MUST be made they have more time to take in information, pray, seek counsel, etc. The opposite is those who make quick, impulsive decisions based upon emotions or a desire to check the box. This is true if you are investing money, if you are responding to an emergency medical situation, or if you are trying to give advice to your child who is having some difficulty with friendships or with school, etc.


There are two kinds of procrastination. The worst kind is NOT what I’m talking about. If a person delays doing a job or making a decision and chooses to play video games or watch TV instead, that is not what I’m talking about. The “good” form of delay I am referring to is those who practice wisdom by taking in information and acting only when they must. In the long run these types of leaders will probably make better decisions and bear more fruit than those who shoot from the hip and make decisions impulsively.


In the outdoor environment, these leadership skills are naturally learned.  I remember crossing a snowfield to avoid some nasty ice on our descent. Halfway through I realized I had misjudged the angle of the terrain because had been skewed by my vantage point when I decided to cross the basin. Now in the middle of it I realized it was classic avalanche terrain. If I had delayed for a while longer and procrastinated a bit, I would have probably chosen to go back down the same way we came up. I thought I was being decisive, but in reality I was being stupid. Fortunately it worked out, but that was a defining scenario that taught me the value of delay.

A friend of mine Jon, shared a story of how he was out with a friend backcountry skiing. He became a little concerned about the snow conditions, yet his friend was ready to go for it. Jon wisely delayed and dragged his feet… then minutes later a huge slab broke away and caused a massive avalanche. Procrastination in this case saved their lives… he took longer to think about every angle and that resulted in a “bad feeling” about the terrain. That is what procrastination and delay do for us, they give our brain a chance to catch up with the data and environmental data being thrown at us.


  • Try this week taking a little longer to make decisions. Wait until the deadline or until you MUST decide. See what happens.
  • Develop a habit of procrastination in your outdoor pursuits. Remember, the Tortoise beats the Hare every time.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Aaron Good

    I have to respectfully disagree with this article based on these quotes “That is what procrastination and delay do for us, they give our brain a chance to catch up with the data and environmental data being thrown at us.” “Leadership skills we actually need to develop are procrastination and delay to help us make the right decisions.”
    Procrastination by definition, is the action of delaying or postponing. Delay, by definition is to make someone late or slow. Therefor, procrastinating can also get you killed. I think training, practice, and skill are the things that help you make more concise decisions, specifically in the backcountry. Taking time to develop a plan of action and using judgement and decision making skills are very different than procrastinating. I recognize the author is not saying procrastination is an excuse for a lack of skill however, I think when we redefine words from our language to fit our agenda, it can create a dangerous paradigm shift. If we must leave at 3am in order to summit a mountain, procrastination, which makes you late, has the potential to get you or others killed. Making the decision to turn back if conditions are not right is not the result of wasting time, its the result of wisdom and skill. Thoughts?