Measure What Matters.

Did you ever wonder why things seem to go wrong on a Friday evening, just when there’s no help available?

The baby spikes a temperature. The dog devours every last one of the mother-in-law’s sleeping tablets. The dodgy tooth flares up into what you know is a certain abscess. The internet goes down just as the match kicks off.

Reilly had just started tucking in to one of Sitars tandoori chicken specials and a few pints of his favourite IPA before the All Blacks v Argentina game.

Just then the water began dribbling ominously down the side of the wall from beneath the immersion heater upstairs. Reilly choose optimistically to turn his back to it in the hope that it might miraculously stop. 

But not Wifey. Wifey has a belief that problems should be confronted early and often. 

‘Get Nicky Hanley in here fast before he goes off fishing for the weekend or else we’ll be as flooded as a Middleton house by Monday morning,’ commanded Wifey with scant regard for either Reilly’s rest or relaxation. 

Reilly knew from past experience that there’d be no let up in the impasse until this problem was rectified.

He tracked Nicky down to the only place he would be on a Friday evening. Cooke’s Thatched Bar on Cooke’s Corner. 

It was no hardship. Reilly and Nicky fell instantly into discussing their mutual area of desire – fishing.

It was a good hour later before Reilly remembered the purpose of his visit.

‘Nicky, I need you to fix a leak in the immersion.

‘I’m sorry Reilly. I’m going fishing.’

Now Reilly and Nicky had history. Their fathers had fished together. Their kids had gone to school together. Nicky grudgingly acceded that Reilly was a ‘middling’ angler. Reilly acknowledged that Nicky was the best plumber in the west of Ireland. 

If Nicky would oblige anyone, it would be Reilly. And, if anyone could persuade Nicky, it would be Reilly.

‘I’ll make it worth your while Nicky.’

‘I’m going fishing Reilly.’

Reilly knew he was in the mother of an arm wrestle and would need to summon on all of his silken negotiation skills.

‘Nicky, do you remember the year Uncle Stiofáin and myself won the Bráithereacht? (The oldest and most prestigious angling competition on the lower lake.)

Reilly could see he’d connected and jabbed quickly again.

‘Do you recall the eight fine trout we landed that day and the lake as flat as a Princesses looking glass?

Reilly knew from the look on Nicky’s face that he’d landed another body blow.

‘After the weigh-in everyone was asking us what we caught the trout on but Stiofáin had sworn me to secrecy.’

‘Nobody, outside of myself and Stiofáin, has ever seen that Brickeen lure Nicky. I’m prepared to give it to you if you’ll fix the leak.’

Nicky paused for an eternity. Reilly sensed capitulation and impending victory. He resolved to remain humble.

‘Reilly, what part of ‘I’m going fishing’ do you not understand.’

‘Ah I understand it implicitly Nicky, just as long as you fix the leak.’

Nicky proceeded to slowly extricate a measuring tape from his inside pocket.

‘Do you know what this is Reilly?

‘Sure I do Nicky. It’s a measuring tape. It must be the ultimate ubiquitous tool in your trade.

‘Cushty Reilly, as Delboy would say.’

Pointing to a number at the top of the tape Nicky asks Reilly.

‘What number is that?

‘72’ says Reilly, who always fancied himself on numbers.

‘And what number is that down there?’

‘57’ says Reilly.

‘Precisely’ says Nicky.

‘Now Reilly, watch my lips move.

‘My father died at 72. 

‘I’m now 57. 

‘And tomorrow morning Reilly, I’m going fishing.’


  • Confront problems early and often.
  • Hope is rarely a good strategy.
  • Your time is finite. The demands on your time are infinite. The good news is that, like Nicky, you have choices.
  • Some people have figured out what’s important in their lives and have determined to see that through irrespective. Others again have identified what is important to them but end up succumbing to the priorities of others. Most however, have never seriously asked themselves the question.


  1. Have you identified what’s most important in your business and life?
  1. Are you fulfilling YOUR priorities, or other peoples?
  1. When was the last time you said ‘No’ like Nicky?
  1. What would you do today if you were at 72 on Nicky’s metaphorical measuring tape? I bet it wouldn’t be worrying about filing your tax assessment! 

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