Better than Better Safe Than Sorry

“Better safe than sorry” – is that always the case?

Sure, it is easy to make that case when taking an extra second or two to look both ways twice before crossing the street. It is always better to exercise appropriate caution and deliberateness in our actions. And there is a bounty of expressions to remind of this (e.g. “measure twice, cut once”). But "better safe than sorry" comes from a defensive place that fears an inherently uncertain future. In fact, the phrase tantalizes our fear with this logical fallacy: preserving a stable present will ensure a stable future. But nothing could be farther from the truth. To take this defensive posture is to take our hand off the tiller as we batten the hatches against the unending waves of chance and change that crash on our bows with each passing day. When we reduce ourselves to safeguarding what we already have, we will not see the rogue wave threatening to capsize us as it comes from the side.

Navigating the choppy waters of the financial industry, we often grapple with the age-old wisdom of being prepared. Consider, however, the contrast between “better safe than sorry,” and "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This saying is inherently dynamic and strikes an active stance. It allows us to make minor adjustments today that not only avoid future catastrophe but capitalize on opportunity. An ounce of prevention is less about fixing issues before they become problems than it is about strategic foresight and proactive engagement in creating solutions that preemptively address potential challenges.

In short:

“Better safe than sorry” = Checkers

“An ounce of prevention…” = Chess

As credit unions continue the consolidation trend, this distinction is crucial. Take succession planning for example. Leadership will turn over. It is not enough to accept the inevitability of change. It is not enough to pay for today’s stability at the existentially high cost of ceasing to exist tomorrow. An effective succession plan is not only a transformative process that prepares the organization for a seamless transition to new leadership, but it can also invigorate the current leadership to keep a steady hand on the tiller and cut through the waves to calmer waters. Does your credit union have a plan to ensure its legacy? The more of us that do, the more certain we are to preserve the credit union advantage for generations to come.

Our regulators remind us (a little too much!) that we must always play it safe. But even those reminders include planning for the future and seeking growth. Let’s take this opportunity to shape our futures with thoughtful, proactive measures to guarantee we are both protected today and poised to flourish tomorrow.

As always,

Bruce