Measure Twice, Cut Once

Measure Twice, Cut Once

That’s one of my favorite expressions now that I’ve got a few years on me.  When I was young and a challenge was presented to me, I was more of a “shoot first and ask questions later” sort of a guy.   

You know, ready, shoot, aim.   

I was pretty impulsive in life and in my so-called sales career.  As a result, I burned through a pretty lengthy series of jobs.  I was certainly never accused of being lazy, but I also never enjoyed any truly great success.

It took a long time before it even occurred to me to take a step back and try to figure out what distinguished the world class sales guys from the also-rans.  Then I ran across a guy, not even in the sales business, that I admired a lot for his steadiness and confidence.  In fact, he was a truck driver.  In his arena, he was the “go-to” guy.  When another driver needed advice, he was the man to see.   Whether it was how to load the truck, how to plan the route, or customer relations, he always had the best solutions.

One time, I watched him do a family room remodel project in his home.  It was a revelation to me.  It was weeks before the project was actually started.  He diagramed the room, studied catalogs (this was before the internet) and made copious notes.  He did a lot of sitting and looking at the room I noticed.  When he was ready to start, he went to the lumber yard, carefully examined everything he bought to be sure there were no faults in the materials and then trucked them to the house.  When he did start the actual measuring and marking of the paneling and moldings, he followed the “measure twice—cut once rule”.  The project itself, went quite quickly even though it wasn’t something with which he had much experience.  But he knew everything he was going to do before he did it.  He steadily completed the project and didn’t make the legendary second, third and fourth trips back to the lumber yard.

Do your planning and prepare your fields
before building your house.
— Proverbs 24:27


I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t change how I did things the next day or anything that dramatic. But this man’s example combined with some other men’s examples made me realize that advanced planning and figuring things out in advance before taking action make all the difference.

In life, it pays to slow down and think about details before moving forward.  Maybe even talk to someone who has some insight before making decisions.  Pray first, cut once.  

Bill Pryor