It will be better next year…

That is what I call the great accounting lie. Substitute “better” for whatever best describes the situation: easier, faster, cheaper.

Most of the time – and I mean like 95% – it won’t. It will actually be a whole lot just like the last year. Because we are prone to do the same thing we’ve always done. The path is known and we don’t have to change anything.

I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that they’ll have their tax information in sooner next year. Or I tell my staff that the tax return will be simpler next year since we won’t have that complex transaction again or now that we’ve corrected the books. Or I’ve simply told myself that everything will be better next year because it won’t be the first year of major tax reform changes or we have more experience than the year before, etc.

But if I’m really honest and realistic, most of the time it won’t change the next year… unless we do something different now. So our best chance of having a better experience later means we have to take a different approach now.

A new Rabbi was in town and he was causing quite a ruckus with how he was treating people that were neglected, shunned, sick or poor. The stuff he said and taught also wasn’t easily digestible to the crowds of his day. One morning he came to the sea and watched as some fishermen guided their ships back to harbor after a frustratingly long night of not catching anything. He called out to them, “throw your nets on the other side.” You can imagine the emotions and thoughts of the fishermen might’ve been something like, “Who does this guy think he is? Stick to teaching and we’ll do the fishing. We’ve literally worked all night and caught nothing and now you want us to put our nets back in the water this close to shore? This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” However, maybe out of respect, the fisherman oblige and throw their nets overboard. And then it happens… the nets start to swell with fish. Not just a couple fish but enough that the nets start to break and the fishermen have to call others over to help bring the catch to shore.

Most of the time it’s not just working longer hours or trying harder while doing the same things we’ve always done. Sometimes we need to throw our nets on the other side of the boat. We need to throw them in waters where the fish aren’t typically caught. But it takes a lot of guts and humility to try something different and possibly foolish. Those fishermen could’ve told the Rabbi thanks but no thanks. Keep his suggestions to himself. But they tried out something different, something that was seemingly stupid on the surface, but it paid off big time- more than they probably could’ve imagined.

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