One of the shows I used to catch every once in a while was The Dave Ramsey Show on the Fox Business Network. Dave is a financial guru who helps people get out of debt and stay out of debt. I’ve read a few of his books and was saddened to see that FBN cancelled the program a few weeks back. He had a great way of putting things that were no-nonsense and full of common sense tips to help one and all get their financial houses in order. He was ardently opposed to credit cards and their use as a tool for cash flow. He called the interest they charged a “stupid tax”. This just made me giggle. He applied the term to several other areas of finances, basically saying that to use or lose your money for silly and unnecessary reasons was just plain stupid.
I think the phrase can be extended to other areas of life and not just financially. And I have a perfect example of how I paid the stupid tax the other day when traveling. Let’s just start with the premise that traveling these days includes a certain amount of hassle, annoyances and endless supplies of patience. The days of travel being a pleasant and luxurious pastime are long gone-alas! Anywho, I was going to LA for a voiceover conference and had booked the first flight out so I could be in LA early enough to do a little sightseeing. I wanted to do an official studio tour as I’d been on a lot but wanted to hear the history of studio. So I was going to take the Paramount tour at noon LA time. I get to the airport at 545am in plenty of time for my 735am flight and I’ve already printed my boarding pass. No problem right? Well for some reason I decide at the last minute to go to the bathroom and then oooo, wouldn’t a banana be good for the flight? So I toodle down the concourse in search of a banana. As I return to the gate, I notice the door is closed so I wait outside as the gate agents sometimes step away to take care of some business. Someone finally showed up and asked if they could help me. I said “I’m on this flight” and hand her my boarding pass. “I’m sorry, the flight is closed”. “But there’s 10 minutes until you leave, they plane’s still right there” “But the flight is full” wherein we got to the root of issue. They’d given away my seat and they’d have to compensate someone in order to honor my seat. So instead I paid the stupid tax of having to wait for the next flight and potentially missing my tour.
Fortunately I made the tour but the entire episode highlighted for me some of the ways that I short change my career and my life by paying this tax that I don’t need to pay. Sure getting a banana was innocent enough but the result of my loss of focus could have been a lot worse than it was. Staying focused is very important and not letting myself get sidetracked. If I don’t, I may end up holding a boarding pass going nowhere instead of continuing forward progress.