I don’t know how many times I had passed by that chair—the comfortable one with quiet, calming maroon upholstery, marred by a tiny white spot.
I would glance at it and say to myself “later.”
But the other day, as I was about to pass up another opportunity to remove that spot, a voice from the past said, in no uncertain terms, “Do it Now.” I did and the eyesore has disappeared from view.
The order came from a man whose guiding principle was to deal with things, fix things, immediately, then move on to the next issue on his daily agenda. He was William Donald Schaefer, former Governor and Comptroller of Maryland, Mayor and City Council President of Baltimore.
Throughout all of his 50 years in public office, Schaefer carried with him a small notebook. Wherever he was, day or night, if he saw something that needed to be fixed or spruced up, he would record it in his little book. As soon as he returned to his office he would contact the person who had the authority to solve the problem he had spotted and ordered “Do it now.”
Now I am painfully aware that for many who subscribe to this journal the mere mention of Schaefer’s name might raise one’s blood pressure, or produce red-faced anger, even among the calmest of souls.
It all goes back 30 years to a careless, vulgar, stupid remark he made about his view of the Eastern Shore (a “s..t house”). Although he apologized profusely for his insulting, nasty words, many still have not forgiven him even though he has been dead for 10 years.
I understand. But on many occasions, when I tend to procrastinate, to put off doing something I really ought to do, I am grateful to Don Schaefer. So many times his admonition to Do it Now has spurred me on to fix whatever needs attention, to deal with it, and move on.
It’s such good advice– for everyone– and it can be applied to countless circumstances so much more important than cleaning a spot on a chair—repairing human relationships, for example. Try it.
Do It Now!
Ross Jones is a former vice president and secretary emeritus of The Johns Hopkins University. He joined the University in 1961 as assistant to President Milton S. Eisenhower. A 1953 Johns Hopkins graduate, he later earned a Master’s Degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.