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Confessions of a Hoarder

By Joey Havens

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CeCe and I are unloading several packages into our closet fresh off one of my two trips a year shopping for new clothes. I hate to shop, but I do like having new things.

Just as I set the packages down, CeCe looks at my side of the closet and says, “You’re going to have to get rid of some things! Some of this is stained, you never wear this, and that doesn’t fit. Do you want me to go through it for you?” “Heck no, I will do it, I promise.” If CeCe went through it, I wouldn’t have a stitch left!

As I look around, I realize I do have a problem. I’ll admit to you that I probably hoard too many clothes, but I can’t admit that to CeCe. She is like a buzz saw — she thrives on throwing things away. And if I admit it, it will only result in the loss of more clothes. She loves to say, “I’m helping you.” Right!

As I continue to look for space for my new things, my rationalizations rush forward. I remember when I wore this last year and it felt great, this is still in good shape, I paid a lot for this, this one is just a little snug, but I’ll lose some weight and it will be perfect. You get the picture — lots of excuses to keep things. I know the ole “sunk cost” bias is grabbing me.

I am feeling good as I look down at the small pile destined for Goodwill. But as I look back up, it’s evident I have a problem. I can’t bring myself to do a true transformation of my closet. Why? I’m a hoarder.

What a sinking feeling, but this pain is good for me. CeCe has forced me to face it and I’m going to do a major clean up. Next week, not today. But I’ve got good intentions and I know CeCe will make sure I follow through. 

Isn’t this where many of our firms or we as individual professionals are today? We abound in good intentions only to be outclassed by our abundance of excuses for why we do not need to change. We are like me — we have a hoarding problem.

We hoard work because that is what we know how to do. We hoard clients that are not a good match for our future vision because they are profitable or because I initially brought them in as a client. We hoard legacy processes because we have always used them and we know what to do even if they are stained a little. Our brains prefer the familiar so we hoard as much of what we have always done as we can.

Like my closet, if we don’t transform our business model and services, we will not have the room to do the higher-value services. We will miss out on being relevant in the future and our skills and services will be as outdated as some of my clothes. 

Our profession is full of hoarders and we need a CeCe push to break loose from this legacy mindset. We have an opportunity for a new and better closet and all that is standing in the way is us! Are you ready for a clean up?